New digital territory: The virtual art exhibition

Date of publication

Hello, I'm Julian. I've been training as an IT specialist for application development at GzEvD since 1 September 2022.

Julian Hafermann ist Azubi bei der GzEvD.

My very first practical assignment was a demanding customer order that ran for several months. What I learned during this time and what technical challenges I had to face, I would like to present in the following.

Art meets digitality

When I signed my training contract at GzEvD last summer, I was of course aware of the company's diverse business areas. Nevertheless, I was surprised when I learned what my first assignment would be: an art exhibition! A graphic designer wanted to present his works in a virtual face-to-face gallery with an audience., as the project was called, was to make art viewing a digital and interactive experience. That sounded exciting.

Even though my training was scheduled to start later, I was there in August at the meeting with the artist to get to know him. Friedhelm Maria Leistner (call name: Friedel) had worked with our managing director before. So there was immediately a very constructive atmosphere between all of us and I immediately felt much less insecure.

Julian und Friedel sitzen vor dem Computermonitor und besprechen eine Dateiversion.

Julian (left) and Friedel at a meeting.

Open Source Software

A few basic technical things were clear from the beginning: open source software was to be used in any case. The open source code allows tools to be further developed and adapted for our purposes.

WorkAdventure was chosen as the framework system. This is a kind of game engine that makes it possible to make maps visible and walkable online. Features such as sounds or closed-off areas are also recognised. And the exchange with other visitors via camera and microphone can also be implemented. So the most important ideas and wishes for the intention are already feasible. As a map editor, the application Tiled inevitably emerged.

First, I familiarised myself with the two programmes WorkAdventure and Tiled using the tutorials offered. There are many ready-made templates that can be used freely, but they all look like a pixelated 8-bit 2D computer game - which Friedel did not like at all! After all, should correspond to his personal style and fit his artworks.

Friedel vor seinem Tisch mit Kunstobjekten und Computer.

Friedel at his studio desk.

Own ways

So he experimented with sketches on tile fields and finally found his own form: All his designs, although of course created digitally, look hand-drawn, with black outline strokes that are sometimes "crooked". While he diligently scribbled and concentrated on the artistic execution, I helped him with technical problems and questions of implementation.

Many features of the maps - like sound, "collision" or "quiet zones" - have been developed by the WA community over the years and can be used immediately. However, some of the functions we thought about were not available at all, so we had to code them ourselves. For writing the scripts, we used TypeScript, a similar version to the well-known programming language JavaScript. To familiarise myself with TypeScript, I tested out how the time and weather could be displayed in a defined grid area. Even though this idea did not find a place in the later course, it was a good introduction to scripting.

Screenshot vom ersten Entwurf der Empfangshalle im Karteneditor Tiledi

First draft of the reception hall in the map editor Tiled.

How did the project further develop? You'll find out in the sequel!

Until then, take a look at the website!

The next exhibition will take place there on 15 May 2023, a Monday, from 7 to 9 pm. You are all cordially invited!

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DeepL is a deep learning company that develops AI systems for languages. The company, based in Cologne, Germany, was founded in 2009 as Linguee, and introduced the first internet search engine for translations. Linguee has answered over 10 billion queries from more than 1 billion users.

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Julian Hafermann

Julian is an apprentice and thus less of a newcomer to the IT world every day. Inquisitive and quick to learn about hardware and software, he is also very interested in history.