Lorella Abenavoli
Samuel Archibald
Dominic Arsenault
Catherine Béchard
Marc Boucher
Renée Bourassa
Gregory Chatonsky
Liviu Dopinescu
Geoffrey Edwards
Martine Époque et Denis Poulin
Michel Fleury
Bertrand Gervais et Paule Mackrous
François Giard et Matthieu Guitton
Charles Perraton
Bernard Perron
Enrico Pitozzi
René St-Pierre
Kora Vann den Bulcke et Thomas Soetens

Kora Van den Bulcke et Thomas Soetens

They Watch, (work in progress) by Workspace Unlimited. Project commisioned by the Experimental Media and Performance Art Center (EMPAC). Concept by Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke.
Photos Courtesy of Workspace Unlimited.


Kora Van den Bulcke (1972) graduated from the University of Montreal’s program in Architecture and is a recipient of the Gold Medal of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (1996). Her vision of architecture is not limited to the design of future physical spaces, but also includes the creation of “hybrid space”: mixed/augmented environments that coexist within the global culture of the Web. Though conceptually engaged with the materiality of architectural space and urban life, her creative output focuses on immersive technologies and electronic networks that activate a new field of relations between people, architecture and the broader environment.

Thomas Soetens (1972) graduated in 1992 with an MFA in Visual Arts from the St-Lucas School of Arts in Belgium. After practicing as a painter from 1992 to 2000, he co-founded Workspace Unlimited in 2001 and is currently its leading artist. Soetens is the creator of a unique conceptual framework : an international hybrid platform that reflects the impact of contemporary technologies through new forms of interactive and participatory artwork created with game engines. His work addresses the intrusive character of technology, as well as the human (un)consciousness of the hybrid realities that emerge between artificial environments and their inhabitants, both virtual and real.

"They Watch" - 2009
Exploring presence and identity in hybrid space

Workspace Unlimited (2001), founded in Belgium by Thomas Soetens (1972) and Kora Van den Bulcke (1972), is an international collective that is at the forefront of media art, creating some of today’s most compelling virtual worlds and interactive installations. The collective’s projects engage with the territories that emerge when physical spaces intersect with the enlarged public sphere of electronic networks and immersive technologies. Workspace Unlimited is frequently invited for lectures and presentation and has been commissioned to create original large-scale works and site-specific installations by leading media art institutions in the United States, Low Lands, Spain and Canada. The collective’s work has been highlighted in numerous publications, including Space Time Play (Birkhauser 2007) and Interact or Die! (V2_publications 2007). In addition to the artistic practice Workspace Unlimited also initiates research projects and workshops in collaboration with an international network of researchers, art institutions and universities.

“They Watch” is an immersive art installation with virtual characters literally watching visitors. Several duplicates of the virtual characters – one man, one woman, and both portraits of the artists – surround and interact with visitors, who are tracked as they move about the physical space, and even projected into the virtual space. Years of research and development with game-technology have resulted in a 360° audio-visual environment, exploiting a 15-meter-wide panoramic screen and a 32-channel sound system. The subtle collaboration of the real and virtual agents and environments conflate to engender a hybrid space where the observer becomes the observed.
Figuratively “wearing” a virtual camera causes the on-screen characters to approach and to retreat, analogously altering the soundtrack; characters that, as visitors will come to discover, are aware of their presence. They watch. Visitors’ movements activate visual cues and affect the characters’ spontaneous, unscripted behaviors, so that the installation’s visual and sonic compositions are uniquely influenced by the visit. The piece becomes a composition in movement whereby non-linear blends of real and virtual force visitors to consider perspective, agency, and the distinction between authentic and imagined as “They Watch”.

Produced by Workspace Unlimited vzw
Commissioned by EMPAC
Art direction and production:
Thomas Soetens & Kora Van den Bulcke
In collaboration with Matt McChesney, Patrick Bergeron, Rene Morel, Marie-Eve Provincal, Hans Samuelson, and Marije Baalman.
With the support of The Flemish department of Culture, the Flemish Minister of Innovation, the Flemish Audiovisual Fund (VAF), IWT, IBBT.
Special thanks to Kathleen Forde, EMPAC team and RPI, Wayne Ashley, Steve Van Anden, Innobec Technologies, SkuadStudios,, Stoffel Debuysere, Sandeep Bhagwati, Chris Salter.
C. 2005-2009 © 2009 UQAM — Haut de page