Bruno and I, as Gibson/Martelli consider figure and landscape in a variety of ways. Using video game technologies such as motion capture (mocap), virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR)- we are interested in creating new performance spaces.
We’ve been creating immersive experiences for our audience — for example: ‘80ºN’ comprises two works that depart from classical representations of heroic voyages of discovery. ‘In Search of Abandoned’ invites the viewer to observe the Arctic from a first-person perspective – flying a simulated dirigible over a fragile wireframe landscape using a CAVE & haptic interface. Another work in the show ‘White Island’ is a re-staging of doomed polar balloonist, S A Andrée’s 1897 flight using a VR headset and rope interface. We are interested in the user being both in and out of control of the experience.
For another take on VR we’ve been experimenting with our ‘dazzle’ project ‘MAN A’ to uncover new spaces for performance. One edition was created for the Google Cardboard VR headset. What’s fantastic about mobile VR is that it’s immediate and accessible. The idea is to surround the viewer with performers, breaking out from the proscenium arch view we tend to take for granted with screen based work. We are now working with a musician on a version for the VIVE where the user can have some interactions with the performers and also hear 3d audio.
At Christie Digital in Canada we began to feed live mocap data into the CAVE to experience new spatial encounters — which felt like ‘deep sea dancing’. In our studio recently we’ve been continuing the experiment, streaming live mocap into the headset – we’re finding a ‘disembodied embodiment’ for the performer – seeing themselves from a 3rd person perspective, or becoming a digital body for the user, or a new puppet theatre scenario —multiple relationships with the self or other. We’ve also tried the HoloLens — live mocap controlling holographic avatars.
So VR is a medium that’s only been around since the 80’s and it doesn’t fully have language, standards and conventions that apply to more traditional mediums like film. We think in the big rush for VR that’s happening right now, a lot of experiences are trying to be shocking or visceral – effectively roller coaster rides. Nothing wrong with that but a roller coaster ride is linear and durational and doesn’t really have any meaning. We believe this novelty value will be very short lived. We want to create experiences that people are seduced into, that they want to stay with & that stay with them, long after the experience has finished. This is the challenge and the opportunity for immersive technologies now.