While city goes mad at LFW I attended Gazelli Art House to see their VR Exhibition: Enter Through the Headset 2.
Exhibition presented 4 VR experience to the visitor on the ground floor and few installations on the level above. But I’ll get my hands straight on VR.
The first experience that I tried was “The Tangle of Mind and Matter” by Rebecca Allen. As I put on a headset I found myself in the sky blue environment facing a large orange brain. As not much was going on I tried to interact with the brain using controllers. Some pieces of brain did respond to my actions and detached from the brain’s mesh, floating and hanging in the space around me. That was beginning and end of interactivity. The rest of the experience was passive. Those interactions triggered pre-rendered animation of brain parts separating revealing a female body resting inside. She breaks out and begins swimming slowly in the space around you. Nothing else is going on for a while until trees appear around you and you start submerging down into the water. Rebeca Allen says that experience is inspired by the centuries-old, philosophical conundrum concerning the relationship between mind and matter and is presented in poetic representation. Even though experience was poetic and calming indeed, in my opinion the potential of VR wasn’t used to it’s fullest. I felt that a lot was left behind and that experience shows a little on such a wide and obscure theme. I’m not sold on the choice of visuals either. There are so many ways this could be deployed, and this is just one of them. I also think sound wasn’t used to its fullest. I mean i almost didn’t even notice it as HTC strap band made it very difficult for me to adjust headset in the desired way, so i could get the most out of the visuals and audio. The weight of the headset almost always makes me hold it with another hand, what partially ruins the experience. Sound also wasn’t load enough, i could still hear noises of the experience. These little details lower down the level of immersiveness, and in such delicate concepts you don’t want to loose visitor’s attention.
My second experience was MAN A VR by Gibson & Martelli, which was my favorite from all. As i put on a headset i delved into the monochrome word of moving geometrical patterns inhibited with the dancing characters made out of the samples of the world we were in. Controller was stylised accordingly and served as a remote between the worlds. Seven in total worlds were challenging visitors perception of space and form. Got to say, freaky geometrical aliens and moving patterns got me – they made me even dance together with them! and honestly I could’ve spent way longer in there, if not the queue behind me. Even though the interaction level was minimum, this symbiosis of visuals and audio was very harmonic and i feel like it served the purpose well. To enhance the experience I’d like to interact more with the caracter figures, be able to pull them apart, where they shrink back to their original shapes, or multiply into more, or trigger some dope graphical animations opening portals to geometrical pathways to the next dimensions. Along those lines… you get it.
The next experience that was tempting me was PORTAL_01 by Jocelyn Anquetil & Charles Harrop-Griffiths which presented itself in a form of Gear VR headset lying on a toilet seat in the gallery’s display windows. Not much information was given on what to expect, so we just went for it. Experience was a collage-like mixed media piece combining flat drawings, cut out and videos. Following one narrative viewer had few options of POV to choose from as they go along into the…feministic dystopian dungeon. World resembled a glitch apocalypses of a pop-cultural exhibitionism starring director i assume. The satiric experience felt like was done on the minimum budget, what actually fits well in ints style, which is again a very subjective view on the subject.. which was? I didn’t feel like the ultimate message was concluded in the end. Experience is a second part of a sequel, so would be interesting to see what the first one was like.
Moving forward, I went experienced The Old Mine by Iain Nicholls. Using photogrammetry he reconstructed old abundant mine in Hemingfield. Very different in its nature from the others, experience takes you down into the mine ad gives you a tour on what’s down there. Don’t try it if you feel claustrophobic, as the further you go the tighter the cave becomes. I doubt how interested i am personally in diving into mines, but got to give my respect into the amount of hard work that was invested in reconstructing this environment. I’d be more entertained if I’d have a freedom of movement within the experience. Yes, i could teleport, but only when narration was over, and only to the place where narrator wanted me to go. I think experience has much more value to those who are in tighter relationships with the mining sphere; and is defiantly winning for educational purposes.
And lastly, interactive installation by Matteo Zamagni. When i got my hands on it…. it was not running properly. The installation was a projection on the way with an iPad that you use to control and change visuals. Installation was run without the sound (which i believe was meant to be a part of it) and a lot of sliders didn’t respond to my actions. Rotation within axes and lighting of a terrain work fine, however the other slider had a very big delay in response and did not adjust the visual. And I don’t complain as I know from my personal experience how tough it is to get thing running in the real time, therefore I would love to see it again when its up and running well.