The oculus, a round window usually at the apex of a dome as in the Roman Pantheon, has long represented a window to a vast, unknown universe. Virtual oculi have been painted on the ceilings of Renaissance churches as in the Camera degli Sposi and the oculus has been said to have been the inspiration for the Gothic rose window. Today the computer screen provides a virtual window to another universe, one with increasing size and complexity. Nowhere is this complexity more apparent than in the sphere of business and economics. The e-Oculus public public media project uses the concept of the oculus as a starting point for creating a visual representation of the many layers of commerce and exchange that span the contemporary virtual and physical landscape.
Instead of the common circular shape for the oculus, the e-Oculus for the University of Utah has been made specific to the Salt Lake City area by taking on the iconic shape of the Great Salt Lake. The computer animations presented on the surface of the shape of the lake alternate between various reflections of activities in the sky and on the surface of the lake. The presentation of the animations is affected by real-time business related data. As a simple example: a rising stock exchange might trigger a more energetic animation of planes flying across a bright blue sky, while a falling exchange might trigger a cloudy, slow moving sky.