Applied Interactives

Applied Interactives was an artist-based non-profit organization that was founded in Chicago in 2001. Its primary mission was to propagate virtual reality technologies and art into the exhibition spaces of galleries and contemporary art museums as well as into the hands of individual artists. Its secondary mission was to continue to develop an art lab (a physical space) where artist members and visitors can work collaboratively on large scale or immersive artworks that make use of a range of interactive technologies.

To this end, Applied Interactives developed a portable virtual reality system that the group dubbed the VR Portal. The VR Portal is a modular virtual reality installation system which includes an immersive screen, head-tracked 3D computer graphics and real-time interactivity. In 2002, the VR Portal was used to display the artwork of several Chicago based VR artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art (versionfest<02) in Chicago, at the Block Museum in Evanston, IL, and at the Murphy Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. The large screen of the VR Portal gives participants a feeling of total immersion into the virtual worlds created by the artists. Its tracking system matches the visual display to the user's perspective so that when they move their head, the virtual world shifts in accordance with the new perspective.

Applied Interactives had a goal of breaking down barriers of what people consider art to be. Recognizing the challenge of convincing art institutions to take the leap into supporting virtual reality art forms, Applied Interactives actively pursued the development of new software and hardware systems that would allow these institutions to exhibit VR and interactive art as readily they do any conventional art media.


Applied Interactives is currently inactive and no longer a non-profit organization. With all founding members pursuing careers outside of Chicago, the sad decision was made to close our doors. The work of Applied Interactives is still being exhibited across the country, and many of its past members and collaborators continue to use its research to create tele-immersive art. Thanks for all the supporters out there who've helped us in so many ways to accomplish so much! The following is a listing of our past collaborators.



Geoffrey Allen Baum is a founder of Applied Interactives and finally received his MFA in Electronic Visualization from the Electronic Visualization Laborarory at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2005. As both an artist and technologist, his interests converge at a point between artistic process, scientific discovery and junkyard hacking; searching for ways to make virtual reality and other immersive experiences less expensive and more common for other artists and the larger public. His own work, which has been exhibited at Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria) and Version>02, Museum of Contemporary Art - Chicago, among others, concerns itself with idea of the individual as the center of these private universes and plays with the creative power - the mythology and legends - of how humanity situates itself in any reality. He is currently employed as a researcher at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory where he has pursued research in camera tracking, spatialized sound and the repurposing of affordable commercial devices for use in Virtual Reality systems. Currently, Baum is leading Applied Interactives and a group of faculty and students from the School of the Art Institute, Electronic Visualization Laboratory and Columbia College in an project entitled 'Synthecology' which will be exhibited at the WIRED NEXTfest in Chicago, Illinois in June of 2005. He is looking for future employment.

Todd Margolis is an artist, educator and technologist. In 2004, he received his MFA in Electronic Visualization from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago. he is a founding member of the immersive and interactive art and technology non-profit organization, Applied Interactives, and also a member of the art collaborative Sine::apsis Experiments. Margolis is currently the Technical Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at UCSD. Margolis was previously a Visiting Research Programmer at UIC, developing a new virtual reality system, The Varrier(tm) Auto-Stereographic display. Results of this research were presented at the SPIE 2001 conference, "Photonics West" and the system was presented at the IEEE VR converence on March 29, 2004. Margolis had frequently lectured on new media at UIC, Columbia College, Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as shown his work nationally and internationally, in such venues as Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), Art Chicago, ICC (Tokyo, Japan), ISEA (Paris, France) and SIGGRAPH (LA and New Orleans). As an artist-in-residence at (art)n Laboratory, he participated in the creation of a permanent art installation at Chicago's Midway Airport. He was also awarded the 2000 Christian and Oline Larsen Scholarship for Electronic Visualization and had been the recipient of a UIC Research Assistantship from 1998 till 2003.

Keith Miller is currently living in Wellington, New Zealand, and working as a Technical Director with Weta Digital on various film projects. Before leaving the United States, he was an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a member of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL). He additionally collaborated with (art)n Laboratory as the Technical Director, developing 3D models and graphic content for vintage PHSColograms. he was a co-founder and longtime contributor to Applied Interactives, and his personal and collaborative works have been shown throughout the United States and internationally. Exhibitions include various SIGGRAPHs, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography (New York), Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), Art Chicago, and the Wiesman Art Museum (Minneapolis).

Tim Portlock is a MFA graduate of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also holds an MFA in art and design, from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active muralist, studio painter and art instructor. In 1997, Portlock was awarded the Gdansk, Poland Millennium mural award. He is currently working on several virtual reality projects, such as Virtual Harlem, and is lead designer for the DuSable project, which is a mixture of improvisational theater within a virtual reality space.

Past Members

Frank Crist is a writer and teacher living in Chicago. His writing is focused on interactive worlds, worldbuilding, and fiction. He teaches database programming, PHP programming, and the Linux operating system at Columbia College, Chicago. He has been the editor on Hair Trigger, the Columbia College literary journal, F Magazine, a magazine of novels-in-progress, and his own literary anthology, My Angels & My Demons at War. He holds a B.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia College, and is an candidate for a combined M.F.A. / M.A. in Creative Writing and Teaching Writing from Columbia College.

HyunJoo Oh's works involve improvisational network sound, cartographic sciences, self-organized and distributed social softwares, Virtual Reality and holography. She investigates the artistic gesture of impacting human coexistence, bridging the analog/digital and online/offline divide with an emphasis on accessibility of technological-social infrastructure. Oh is currently working on several virtual reality projects, such as 'Inside/Outside System II' and 'Nodule Resonance' and has been a teaching assistance of the Immersive Environment course(VR) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Oh joined several art groups, such as the post-production team of the Chicago Millennium Park Fountain Project (a permanent public art installation), Applied Interactives and Dottedquad and her works have been shown in Versionfest>04 (Chicago, IL), IMMEDIA (Ann Arbor, MI), OpenEnd Art, Polvo, Buddy and 1926 gallery.(Chicago, IL) She holds a B.F.A (2002) in Philosophy and Art Education from the SungKyunKwan University in Seoul, Korea and M.F.A (2005) in Art and Technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. More information on her website.

Andrew Zoechbauer is a designer working in Chicago. Having recently graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago receiving a BFA with emphasis in visual communication and art & technology, he now spends his time creating motion graphics and interactive as well as traditional print design. Project Altria, a virtual reality environment exploring the imbalance of information available to consumers on the one side, and producers/marketers on the other, was shown in the school’s 2004 undergrad show. He is interested in exploring the tremendous possibilities offered by combining information graphics with immersive, realtime 3D visualization technologies.

Sabrina Raaf is a Chicago-based artist who works in both experimental sculptural media and photography. She is a producer of creative machines—machines that independently make art when cross-pollinated with human interaction. Her work was exhibited in 2002 in the Here and Now show at the Chicago Cultural Center, in Postflesh at California State University in Sacremento, CA, and 'Sense Data' at the Painted Bride Center in Philadelphia, PA. She exhibited recently in the Sculpture in Chicago Now exhibition (2002) curated by Adam Brooks and Cory Postiglione, at the Fassbender Gallery in :::Interface: Exploring Possibilities:::, 2001, and at the Block Museum in the Immersive Art Symposium,2001. In 1999 she exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC) and at the Chicago Cultural Center. She is the recipient of a 2002, Creative Capitol Grant in Emerging Fields and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship (2001). She received an MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. Sabrina is currently a tenure-track professor in the Photography Department of Columbia College in Chicago.

Jerem Sloan is a film, video and sound artist. He has worked on a number of independent films, two of which were showcased and received awards at the Chicago Asian-American Film Festival in 1999. His personal work has been shown in a group show (Electraslip Knife, 2000), and he has helped develop a video and web package with CNN about Native American languages. He has been doing video documentation for Applied Interactives and is the first collaborating artist to join their team. He believes this partnership will help further his desire to combine art and technology in a common voice to the public.

Contributing Artists

Sarah Attwood is a graduate of Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is doing image and video processing with Applied Interactives for the Special Treatment project.


Hong Lim

Applied Interactives

Geoffrey Allen Baum
Frank Crist
Todd Margolis
Keith Miller
Hyunjoo Oh
Andrew Zoechbauer

Contributing Artist

Sarah Attwood

Previous Collaborators

Tim Portlock
Sabrina Raaf
Jerem Sloan


Hong Lim

Special Thanks to

The Committee
Drew Browning
Julia Fish
Alan Millman
Dana Plepys
Dan Sandin
Ellen Sandor

Voice Actors
Randy Albers
Claire Cooney
Dennis "dc" Goode
Keith Green
Melanie Haynes
Nicole Lorenz
Adrienne Nicole
Hans Schall
Jinghua Ge

Other Contributions
Maxine Brown
César Dávila-Irizarry
Greg Dawe
Sam & Marianne Greco
Lance Long
Annkatrin Rose
Alan Verlo
Laura Wolf

Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL)
Panstwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau w Oswiecimiu