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.
I’ve managed to create and test a few Oculus Rift environments. They are crude, but they worked well. It hasn’t proved too difficult to implement the head tracking which is positive for future projects.
It was a great opportunity to experiment with the kit. Thank you Alejandro!!
They are impressive. The only downside in my mind is the screen resolution, but given certain company’s recent successes with 4K (and higher) screen resolution, hopefully it’ll be better on the commercial release.
Below are two videos of the experiences. No.2 was significantly more successful than No.1
Jon Rafman’s first solo show at the Zabludowicz was a montage of internet culture in a space that forced the audience to interact. There was an enormous sense of claustrophobia, whilst watching many of the films. it certainly captured the strangling element of life on the internet, as well as the barrage of imagery and its interchanging narrative.
Many of the works were very engaging in this respect, however, as someone incredibly interested in the Oculus Rift, (and in general just VR), experiencing Rafman’s virtual reality piece was really eye opening.
FINALLY I tried the hardware, and was in no way disappointed. Experiencing the animation secured my hopes for the medium. It really is entirely engaging, and gives the user the cinematography role. I can imagine that these early day films, games, animations and artworks will give an impression of its potential. Its the devices’ shift into search engines, interactive websites, social media, online shopping etc. that I’m particularly interested in. For a first time VR experience, Rafman’s piece is brilliant.
Well… it appears that the Facebook owned company have gone another step further in their virtual reality dream, and have created a device that allows the user to touch things within the virtual environment….
Oculus Touch has two controllers, one in each hand, and vibrations move through the hand, simulating this virtual sense. What are the possibilities of this on virtual artwork? Unlike galleries today where the work is cornered off with motion sensors and the beady eyes of invigilators, could this bring a new element to art and the audience’s experience?
To be honest, it looks like a PS4 controller has been sliced in half, and been given a halo but its probably one of the more revolutionary designs for console controllers since the Nintendo Wii, or lack of controller, Xbox Kinect. Then again, these things should be judged on their application and ability, not their looks and purpose alone.
We’ll have to wait and see…. but in the meantime, the dream is exciting.
It’s pretty clear that Oculus Rift is getting closer and closer to being a viable commercial product with a lot of possibility, then again, so are many of its competitors.
I still haven’t tried one!!! which is frustrating more each day… as I’d love to get my hands on the developers kit. My nerdy, techy side needs to be indulged.
Article by Peter Shadbolt.
(CNN) – What will the internet of the future look like? And what purpose will it be used for?
From augmented reality, which anticipates the information you’ll want just by looking at an object, to smart services that use artificial intelligence to help us manage our workloads, the look, feel and utility of the internet of 2040 is a wide open field.
Already advances in virtual reality technology – Facebook notably bought the virtual reality start-up Oculus VR for $2bn this year – are beginning to change the way we deal with everything from medical science, to military training, to learning difficulties.
To what extent, however, we’ll have control over our own data is one of the future’s great unanswered questions.
For many the future of the internet is already here; and it looks a lot like it did in 1990s.
Called the Darknet, this anonymised section of the net allows everyone from copyright pirates, to drug dealers, to dissidents to communicate and do business without fear of leaving their digital fingerprints.
Jamie Bartlett, whose book “The Dark Net” investigates the digital underworld, told CNN that this opaque and subversive world is inaccessible through normal browsers, and requires special software.
“A special browser called Tor allows a user to browse the internet without their IP address being given away,” Bartlett said. “It uses a clever encryption system that means no one can see what computer a user is on.”
This same encryption system also affords anonymity to the websites that inhabit this corner of the web, meaning that governments and law enforcers have no idea where the site is being hosted.
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That doesn’t mean that the individuals running these operations can forever remain hidden, as the capture of the creator of “Silk Road”, a famous illegal online marketplace, by the FBI in 2013 demonstrates.
Still, the tools to make life difficult for law enforcement seem to be there: “Anyone can set up these websites which are almost impossible to shut down and censor,” he said. “As a result it’s a bit of a Wild West — more or less anything goes.
“You’ve got illegal pornography there, these drugs markets there, assassination markets and hit men for hire. All sorts of terrible stuff but also all sorts of good stuff too.
“Democratic revolutionaries, whistle blowers, human rights activists who are also concerned about giving away their location also want somewhere where they can post stuff illegally and anonymously.”
Bartlett said the browser was initially developed by the U.S. military as a way of traversing the internet secretly, but since then had become an open source project. He suggests the military released the encrypted browser as a way of providing cover for their operations.
Because the Tor browser uses a non-standard protocol, people observing network traffic can identify it easily even if they can’t see what the user is looking at.
“They realised that this is not a good idea if the only people using it are the US military — it’s going to be obvious who they are. For that reason, they turned it into an open source project.”
Today, the Darknet is moving from fringe to mainstream, attracting anyone who wants anonymity — be they hired killers or humble bloggers.
Back to the future
For Bartlett, the Darknet is a return to the labrynthine recesses of the first days of the worldwide web. He said the future of the net is likely to be an increased proliferation of these non-standard protocols that provide ever deeper levels of anonymity.
“It really feels like the early days of the internet … (everything) is hosted on these rudimentary networks. It’s like the internet of the early 90s when things weren’t indexed the way they are now.
“Everything is hyperlinked together and Google can find everything, but back in the day the whole internet was dark — you didn’t know what you were doing or where you were going.
“You even used to write down web addresses on pieces of paper and pass them to each other.”
Just what can be found on the Darknet is often the subject of wild conjecture, but a recent project launched by the !Mediengruppe Bitnik art collective — called “The Darknet — From Memes to Onionland” – shows exactly what is on offer on the Internet’s underbelly.
Arming an automated internet bot with US$100 in bitcoins (the crypto-currency accepted as legal tender on many illicit marketplaces) the “Random Darknet Shopper” trawls its murky corners and every week buys one item at random.
So far, the bot has purchased a “stash can” of Sprite that doubles as a hiding place for either drugs or money, a platinum Visa card for $35, 10 Ecstasy Pills from Germany for US$48, 10 packets of Chesterfield cigarettes from Moldova, and many other items such as jeans, “designer” bags, and books.
One of the most intriguing pieces for the exhibitors at the Kunst Halle St. Gallen gallery in St. Gallen, Switzerland — where all the parcels arrive — has been a fireman’s set of skeleton keys from the United Kingdom.
“Our first question was what do you do with this? What does it open?” Carmen Weisskopf, co-founder of the art collective, told CNN. On the Darknet, the keys are advertised as useful for unlocking toolboxes or “gaining access to communal gates and storage areas.”
‘Thrilling and scary’
She said receiving the parcels at the gallery was at once “thrilling and scary.”
“The motivation for the artwork really came in the light of the Snowden revelations – for internet artists it meant we had to re-evaluate the networks we work in. We became really interested in looking at these anonymous and encrypted networks from an artistic point of view.”
She said the starting point for them had been how to build trust in an anonymous network.
The project has already dented the levels of trust at the art collective who early on in the project called in the services of a lawyer to shore up their legal position should the bot turn up anything that puts them outside the law. Fortunately, Weisskopf said, firearm sales are limited to clients within the United States.
“That’s why we got the idea of going into marketplaces because trust is something you need to build in markets.”
The artists have already gained notoriety by sending a parcel to fugitive whistleblower Julian Assange. The parcel was equipped with a cam that recorded its journey through the postal service to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Assange is currently holed up.
On the subject of virtual reality, London based artist Mark is testing the waters in a month long bid to experience life from another person’s point of view. For 28 days, He will be immersed in the daily life of a complete stranger, only known to him as ‘input’. Every aspect of the inputs life will be relayed to Mark, including showering, sleeping, going to the toilet, going to work, even sex…
It’s not set to take place until the summer of 2015.
MF: “I see who we are as a construct of society and want to find out to what extent it’s possible to lose the sense of one’s self, myself”
Interview with the creators: