How things can change! I was made aware by a few people who had tried the early tests of my VR piece that the environment wasn’t necessarily a Church to them. The comparison given was the U.S. Capitol building.
I spent a considerable time focussing on a religious setting after the influence my research paper had had on my practice. From the beginning I focused on the Internet as a physical space and the architecture within it. Hearing the users experience made me feel that the environment is comparable to both a political and religious setting, which, given the nature of the internet, I didn’t dislike. Though, admittedly it wasn’t intended.
I’ve kept what was originally designed as a church / chapel going against what I’d decided a while ago.
I’ve reflected on the Internet as a comparable institute to religion and still believe that its use and ability creates a similar social structure based on live information. For example, stories of discrimination, abuse, or any injustice are shared and commented on. These are seen and read by tens of thousands, creating a collective social view on that injustice. The main issue with this idea is that internet communities are more secluded than I’d originally thought. The stories of injustice I see on my Facebook timeline are personalised to the community I’m a part of. If I lived elsewhere, in another community, it is a different story. (Of course this is a simple and obvious reflection that can be seen in any community online or offline).
This couldn’t have been made more obvious by Brexit. Since Friday, Facebook (and most other social media) has been set alight with emotion both positive and negative. Some of the posts have been horrendous, some very enlightening, however, the best one I read was a friend from Nottingham uni. He wrote:
“……and proof that my newsfeed is a terrible measure of public opinion”
I don’t want to digress to Brexit, but this comment gives the perfect insight into internet communities.
Back to the religious comparison. This idea has made me realise that although the spread of information allows for quick solidarity and reaction to significant events. It is also tailored to you as an individual and therefore doesn’t give you the insight of all points on the spectrum. I’ve always felt that the best way to understand a story or an idea is to read from both ends of the argument. This is in some way lost by the monetization of the net, and its focus on your individual experience (This is mostly true for social medias).
I’ve gone slightly off topic but the idea of Gateway is to highlight the importance of the viewer’s input.
I will post some more recent examples of the VR experience I’m building in due course.
An Extract from Life Online: Researching Real Experience in Virtual Space
by Annette N. Markham.
“Although cyberspace is nothing more or less than a network of computer systems passing digitised strings of information back and forth through copper or fibre-optic cables, people who connect to this network often feel a sense of presence when they are online. Even in purely text-based online contexts, people establish and maintain intimate friendships, romantic relationships, and stable communities. This sense of presence can be quite visceral:
‘So much for leaving our bodies out of this… This gathering is not restricted to the Net, and therefore to the text of the Net, but extends to the flesh, the physical body. In this rare case, uncannily, even though online, we feel we meet in the flesh…. Everywhere we rub shoulders with each other. Everywhere users present themselves to each other, freely saying and doing what they choose. (Argyle, 1996, passim).’
Online communication does seem quite extraordinary. By logging onto my computer, I (or a part of me) can seem to (or perhaps actually) exist separately from my body in ‘places’ formed by the exchange of messages, the technical basis of which I am only beginning to understand. I can engage in activities with people of like interests around the globe using nothing but my computer, my imagination, written text, and the capacity of digital code to process and mediate aspects of my life online.
Telepresence, as this is called, is not unique to computer technologies. Indeed, a good novel, a familiar scent from the past, or a long-lost journal can transport a person to another time and place. For many of us, however, the feeling of being somewhere other than in the body with some other non-embowed yet presumably living being – particularly to the extent Argyle describes above – is a new and unfamiliar experience.”
I finally had a bit more success 3d modelling my work in multiple online identities. At first I was using drawings and duplicates to represent this. I’ve been playing with the Array modifier in Blender and it works beautifully to re-imagine this concept. The aesthetic is much more realistic.
‘Profiles’ series. 2014 / 15
‘Profiles’ Series 2016:
My moped broke down last night on the way back from the studio. I was forced to wait in McDonalds on the Holloway Road for over 2 hours for a recovery man to arrive. Luckily, I had my laptop and thought I’d play around with an image I’d made towards the end of the year on DAZ Studio.
Its just a sketch, however, the almost computerised, virtual setting, i feel, (especially the impression of buildings or trees,) is something I’ve been striving towards.
As for the figures, I hope to transfer their Sim-esque aesthetic into a more weighty, hand-drawn finish. The clothing, hair, and facial expressions of the figures are also something I feel I would have more control over with a pencil or a brush. Seeing as the man’s currently wearing swimming trunks, and the woman, a bra and shorts…… there’s clearly work to be done.
This avatar aesthetic echoes gaming, which in turn makes me think of the impact a virtual being in a virtual world can have on the users reality. The thought of going for a walk online with your partner came to mind when creating this. I’ve been interested in the possibilities of Virtual Realities, and recently I’ve been particularly interested how it could affect friendships and relationships. We are all aware of how Skype and Whats-app have changed the way we communicate… surely virtual reality is the next step.
As for DAZ, Its definitely a good way to control the figure, much less expensive than hiring a life model, much easier than having to digitally model your own person and you have entire control over the pose and angle. It’s FREE! so Boom, I will use it again.
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: