If electronic media is a practical tool for conveying information, books are information sculpture. From now on, books will be judged by how well they awake this materiality, because the decision to create a book at all would be based on a definite choice of paper as a medium.
– Kenya Hara
As a person who has never been much of a gamer (not in the way we talk about gaming and gaming culture today) I have had mixed feelings about the approach of VR over these past four years. It’s been an incredible development to watch VR and Oculus go from a Kickstarter in 2012 to a fully realized product delivered into people’s hands in 2016. But given VR’s heavy relationship to gaming, the enthusiasm I felt has always been tempered by the question of what the experience of virtual reality will hold for those of us who are not particularly interested in the gaming experience.
As someone who hasn’t had the chance to experience VR (and quite frankly may not for quite a long time), I’ve only been able to imagine what can be done with such and immersive space and experience. As an artist, particularly one drawn to creating audio and visual experiences of space and narrative, virtual reality is fertile ground for imagination, one I can’t wait to play in. To me, VR isn’t about gaming, it’s a whole new rich media. The possibilities seem endless, particularly when it comes to the social experiences that can be had (that’s saying something for an introvert).
VR as a Creative Space?
There have been a handful of projects and experiments in VR that have given a glimpse of what’s possible outside of the gaming experience. Oculus Story Studio, Alchemy VR, and Google’s TiltBrush, just to name a few. But it is a medium in its infancy. Video has been around well past 100 years and the embrace of non-linear forms has rarely materialized. A similar problem may exist within VR. I certainly hope not. Can VR be something more than simply a deeper emersion experience?
The hardware has raced forward at an incredible speed. It’s barely three years between Oculus Rift DK1, and Oculus Rift CV1, but the change is extraordinary. But with this charge forward brings a storytelling problem. The new Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR headsets behave and look close to real life. Screen door and latency has been nearly obliterated. The hardware is challenging our brains to differentiate with real life.
Hardware mimics real life, and real life timing. Whilst current non-gaming VR content relies upon existing forms of linear narrative.
The challenge of making something more out of VR other than titillating experiences seems challenging. That being said, I am excited at what my first experience with VR might bring. Till that time I look forward to the breath of new projects coming out with the final launch of VR. One that has me excited is FOO VR, one of the first fully VR talk shows as well as a production platform. Before FOO VR, Will Smith was the co-creator and presenter at Tested and did a fantastic job creating quality content. I’m excited to see what he can do with the format in this medium. It’s an approach built around an experience with VR that can be a touchstone to a lot of virtual reality’s social, iterative, and community-based possibilities.
Last year, when I had my first social interaction with another person in virtual reality, something amazing happened. Within moments of seeing the other person’s avatar —it was just a simple representation of a human head and hands — I realized that my brain was perfectly willing to treat the most rudimentary representation of a person the same way it treats flesh and blood people. It’s kind of the inverse of the uncanny valley — if it tilts its head like a person and moves its hand like a person, my brain will happily accept that it’s a person.
After seeing that demo, I got obsessed and talked to everyone I knew about my experience. At the time, hand controllers were ultra rare, so few people I spoke with had shared that first taste of social VR, but people started to get it. When I was telling my friend Mike about it, he asked an important question. “Could you make the kind of shows that in VR that you did on Tested?” With that conversation, FOO VR was born.
unmappable weaves together the life and work of iconoclastic psychogeographer and convicted sex offender, Denis Wood. Directed by Diane Hodson and Jasmine Luoma
My fight with maps, actually with cartography, was ignited by their rejection of modernism. As modernism was noisily turning its back on the failed rationalities, on the empty harmonies, on the make-believe coherences of Enlightenment, of Victorian thinking, cartography was clutching them ever more tightly to its breast. Painters may have been deconstructing pictorial space, composers shredding inherited tonalities, architects stripping walls of pilasters, cornices, and dentil moldings, poets following Pound’s cry to “Make it new”, and novelists indulging a self-consciousness that was all but the hallmark of the age, but cartographers, they were content to hone, to polish, to extend inherited forms.
Cartography exalted its unreflective empiricism as its raison d’être. It cherished the graphic conventions it had laid down in the 19th century. Even today, few maps acknowledge the 19th century’s over. This, despite the fact maps were never what they were claimed to be, never what the map themselves claimed to be: veridical and value-free pictures of reality. They were always arguments about the way the maps’ makers—or about the way those who paid the maps’ makers—thought the world should be.
With modernism came a predisposition for resistance and smashing traditional forms, for going someplace stripped down, someplace essential, someplace real, for asking, Why not? I long felt around for a new map that wasn’t of the same old subjects, that didn’t have the same old forms, that looked and felt modern. Schoenberg wanted to emancipate the dissonance. Arp wanted to destroy existing modes of making art. Fifty years later, I wanted to destroy the existing ways of making maps through which millions were subjugated, herded, and all too often killed. I wanted to emancipate dream and desire as subjects of the map.
Hard to do in geography: it was nearly as hidebound as cartography.– Denis Wood, Mapping Deeply
Viewers are given an ipod and headphones and asked to follow the prerecorded video through the old train station in Kassel. The overlapping realities lead to a strange, perceptive confusion in the viewers brain. Hard to document and harder to explain. We only present the recorded audio here, but when doing the walk the real sounds mix with the recorded adding another level of confusion as to what is real and what is fiction. Wear headphones to get the full effect of the original binaural recording.
This is a 6 minute clip of a 26 minute piece.
Automultiscopic 3D displays allow a large number of viewers to experience 3D content simultaneously without the hassle of special glasses or head gear. This display uses a dense array of 216 video projectors to generate images with high angular density over a wide field of view. As users move around the display, their eyes smoothly transition from one view to the next. The display is ideal for displaying life-size human subjects, as it allows for natural personal interactions with 3D cues such as eye-gaze and spatial hand gestures.
The installation presents “time-offset” interactions with recorded 3D human subjects. A large set of video statements was recorded for each subject, and users access these statements through natural conversation that mimics face-to-face interaction. Conversational reactions to user questions are retrieved through speech recognition and a statistical classifier that finds the best video response for a given question. Recordings of answers, listening, and idle behaviors are linked together to create a persistent visual image of the person throughout the interaction. This type of time-offset interaction can support a wide range of applications, from creating entertaining performances to recording historical figures for education.
OUTNUMBERED, a brief history of imposture is an audiovisual installation by Jasper Rigole that examines the strategies used in making documentaries, Fact Fiction novels and popular scientific equivalents.
The video projection in the first part of the installation shows a camera moving over an old school photograph, using the pan-and-scan effect. This technique is frequently used in documentary films to animate still archival footage. As the camera moves from one face to another, a voice explains who these students are and what their mutual relation is. According to the narration, the boys depicted are historical figures, some well known and others more obscure. They all seem to have a link to imposture.