I had my tutorial with Jonathan on Friday. We spoke about the logistics for the final show and the best way to present my final piece. Although I’ve had some breakthroughs in producing VR content in Unity and Blender, I’m still not entirely sure which would be best for the show. On one side, if I can get my hands on an Oculus or Vive, a PC based Unity build would make it possible for the viewer to explore the environment as they wish. However its proving difficult to get my hands on one for the final show, so I’ll have to consider a rendered equi-rectangular film to be shown on a google cardboard. (I could explore simplifying the Unity build to allow it to be app based, but it wouldn’t have the same impact as the PC version). It’ll most likely have to be a rendered film. There are benefits to both options, however conceptually and aesthetically it’d be better for the viewer to have full control of their movement.
Thinking through the presentation for VR in the gallery, there’s the important question of user experience. I’m apprehensive about the funfair/arcade-style queueing that I’ve seen at a number of exhibitions, but there’s nothing I can do about it. The emergence of the technology makes it currently very attractive to try no matter the context. This fact gives an added pressure to the outcome. Realistically, during the private view, I’ll have to be organised and if I were able to use the open world version of the work I’d have to restrict the time of each viewer’s experience depending on the interest. This can be done a number of ways though I’ve been considering a script that cancels all colliders after a certain period of time, forcing the FirstPerson to fall through the structures, ending the simulation. However, again, this is for the PC version of the work.
The other option is a 5/6 minute fixed animation on a loop. The biggest pro for this option is the quality of the final render and the fact that the headset will be portable (potentially multiple headsets). The biggest problem would be the battery life of the phones.
As for the physical door, I’m going to have to go at it with a Jigsaw and re-arrange it at Wilson Road. My other option was to try to borrow a horse box….
I’m currently working on my Symposium 2. The Research Paper settled my conceptual interests in the freedoms and restrictions of religion/spirituality and the internet. Within this I approached and considered addiction, identity, disembodiment and propaganda within this question. My interest in the relationship between user and device has been inspired by Nam June Paik’s work, which has evolved rapidly since studying his work in more detail for the paper. This time last year, we began to form our research questions, and at the time I didn’t expect it to have had such an impact on my overall practice. It has allowed me to consider the concepts in a purely academic context. ‘The Medium is the Message’, (Marshall McLuhan), and Virilio’s ‘Information Bomb’ have been important texts during this process.
In many ways, my concept hasn’t changed for the last 6 or 7 months. The idea of a Gateway, a device as access to an extension of physical space and identity. My interim exhibit ‘Congregation’ was also an attempt at exploring this idea. Aesthetically, I’ve tried to develop ideas from early in the MA such as trying to represent to multiple identities one holds online and the physical, 3-dimensional make-up of everyday information.
As i’m approaching the final weeks of the MA, I’m happy to be in a position where there are aesthetic and conceptual choices that can be made rather than rushing to finish. Though, I’m aware that its looking less likely I’ll be able to secure a headset for the final show, which makes the Unity experience I’ve been developing somewhat frustrating / partially obsolete. Depending on what happens with the headset, there may still be an 11th hour panic!! Mainly the issue of organising and rendering the film.
I’m still making changes to the work, and having been through a number of versions, in recent days, I can see significant changes happening before the final exhibition version.
Gazelli Art House for me is really trying to push the inclusion of digitally based art in their exhibition schedule. Every time I go back there’s a new show with a digital twist. This time was phenomenal but at the same time bizarre and worrying.
I’m a huge advocate for Virtual Reality in fine art… of course… but there was a practical issue that many on the course had noticed at Jon Rafman’s exhibition.
The gallery had become an arcade or funfair, where the audience are queueing to experience the work. At Jon Rafman, the anticipation was created by the scale of the maze and the works in the other rooms. This meant that you didn’t mind queueing (it was also my first experience with a headset), however in Gazelli, there were 3 extraordinary VR experiences in two small rooms. Each experience had a long queue and it really did put you off. The redeeming feature was the reaction of those coming out from the headsets. You can see in the way they move and react to others around them that they feel as if they’ve truly been somewhere else.
The piece I most enjoyed was an experience that played on the idea of crossing between physical and digital space. The artist stood next to a plinth with a small cardboard house. You stand in front of the model, put on the headset, and all of a sudden (as is the wonder of VR,) you’re in the same room but alone, without a body and the little house is glowing. I haven’t had the opportunity to get the Oculus Rift head tracker working with a Mac yet. Unfortunately its a known issue so I’ll to wait for a powerful PC. This experience used the head tracking beautifully. As you peer into the windows of the house, you’re suddenly transported inside, where there are paintings and sculptures to see. Another technical aspect worth mentioning was the perfect alignment of a lever on the plinth and the lever in the experience. You don’t have any hands in the experience, so reaching out for a lever should be difficult to co-ordinate… but it was exactly where it was in reality. Very well mapped.
The experiences themselves are in many ways Gimmicky. Its such an exciting medium in an early stage so the content created is going to be simple and crude. (this may be a mad comment) but it reminds me of the impressionists with tubed oil paints. Look what they ended up creating!
Definitely worth seeing this show. Though I’m not sure about the Title. Lends itself to much to medium over concept, and plays on the famous phrase “Exit Through the Gift Shop”