A computer generated image of a woman with a pixie cute and wearing a white button down shirt projected on a panoramic screen as a silhouetted person looks on.

They Watch

Workspace Unlimited
March 1—October 30, 2009

They Watch was an immersive installation commissioned by EMPAC for a panoramic screen, 360° interactive projection method, and a 32-channel sound system. Over a period of years and several residencies at EMPAC, including research and development with game-technology, Workspace Unlimited advanced methods to allow them to track audience members, and to develop interactive functions enabling avatars (virtual versions of the artists) that would appear to be aware of visitor’s presence within the panoramic environment. EMPAC’s panoramic screen is a cylindrical projection and software environment for 360°-panoramic projections, developed at the ZKM | Institute for Visual Media, at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany in collaboration with the iCinema Research Centre, Sydney. It can display panoramic films via four or six projectors, such as 3D animations or video footage, as well as stereoscopic VR-applications and a wide range of applications for interactive real-time work. 

Workspace Unlimited (WU) is a digital arts collective co-founded by visual artist Thomas Soetens and architect Kora Van Den Bulcke that has been commissioned by cultural institutions to create large-scale digital environments for specific exhibits or buildings. WU’s projects feature hybrid spaces, merging the thin line between physical environments and perceptual realities. Conceptually rooted in the convergence of art and architecture, WU reconciles these two “realities” through the creation of environments where virtual space overlaps with “real” physical space, through the use of immersive environments, real-time gaming technology, projections, body tracking, and mirroring techniques.

Main Image: They Watch, 2009. Photo: EMPAC.

Visual Art

Fall 2009

Production Credits

Produced by Workspace Unlimited vzw, Commissioned by EMPAC. 

The panoramic screen environment was developed by Jeffrey Shaw, ZKM Karlsruhe (Germany), iCINEMA at UNSW (Australia), and EMPAC; and was engineered and manufactured by Huib Nelissen (The Netherlands).

Special thanks to Kathleen Forde, EMPAC team and RPI, Wayne Ashley, Steve Van Anden, Innobec Technologies, SkuadStudios,, Stoffel Debuysere, Sandeep Bhagwati, Chris Salter.


Commissioned by EMPAC and with the support of the Flemish Department of Culture, the Flemish Minister of Innovation, the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology, and the Flemish Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology.