Chris Salter

art / design / research / writing

Collaboration with Erik Adigard/M.A.D. / Interactive Installation

DualTerm explores our contemporary experience of the global airport. Visitors to Toronto’s Pearson Airport’s Terminal One come upon a sculptural shape with five embedded plasma screen monitors. On the left most monitor, a computer generated 3-D model of the terminal passage runs inside the online virtual world Second Life. The 3-D model appears to have the same shape as the actual space in which the real sculpture is housed with the exception that the model is visually reduced in its detail. As the real, physically present visitor maneuvers the on screen avatar through the 3-D terminal model, they encounter a space which is increasingly estranged from the actual physical terminal building. On one end of the terminal passageway, the visitor crosses through a door and ends up in a glass enclosed room which overlooks the architecturally cluttered Second Life landscape below. The glass enclosed room is filled with noise – real time sounds from the actual terminal passage which are fed into the Second Life model. Looking out onto the Las Vegas-like landscape, the actual visitor thus learns that the terminal building has been constructed in the air.

As the visitor guides the avatar out of this glass cube and back into the terminal, the deafening sounds of terminal noise gradually give way to a silence that is punctuated only by the low pulse of a heart beat and a low, throbbing drone. When the visitor exits the other end of the terminal passage, they come up a dark, glass enclosed space which experientially feels like a vacuum. The stars of the Second Life sky can be seen from this vantage point and all of the white noise from the terminal passage finally subsides into a dark, pulsing nothingness.

DualTerm is inspired by anthropologist Marc Augé’s notion of the non-place: the new, transient locales that we increasingly find ourselves in. Spending more of our lives inside the simulated environments of airports, we inhabit environments that are simultaneously a site of stifling dullness and overwhelming stimulation. Yet, the airport no longer functions as a transitional space, a location in between the place we are leaving and a distant site in which we have not yet arrived. Instead, this non-place has itself become a place; a destination in and of itself that we inhabit and are asked to experience in which the real and the simulated seamlessly merge.


Second Life (virtual) + Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1, Toronto, Ontario (real)

Commission: Terminal Zero One
July 2007


Screen, computer, custom software, headphones


Concept/Design/Art Direction: Erik Adigard + Chris Salter
Sound Design: Daniel Grigsby
3-D Modeling: Myles Kerwin
SL Scripting: Jonathan Lebensold
Web Design/Project Planning: M-A-D
Commission: Terminal Zero One