REIMAGINING THE BODY is a virtual showcase of VR projects around the world that ask us to engage with our bodies in new ways. Each of the works chosen references themes of embodied cognition, and are designed to help us reconsider how we visualize and understand our own physical selves.
This was another project as part of the Udacity VR Nanodegree where we were asked to create a ‘virtual museum’ with five different examples of VR projects that fit around a theme of our choosing. As a social-practice artist whose work almost exclusively strives towards sharing stories and building empathy, my mind jumped to some of the amazing narrative-driven experiences I’ve seen/bookmarked over the years, but I also wanted to step outside of the familiar and really learn just what was going on in the current world of VR. This led to a research extravaganza where I discovered so many incredible new things, my favorites sitting within the intersections of perception, identity, and self-narrative. As both an academic and creative at heart, I was so excited to share the results of my findings in a visual format, and aestheticized in a conceptually-driven environment.
Research a topic of your choice and present applications that explore how VR is used within that theme:
+ Create a mobile VR experience with ‘information booths’
+ Inform others in a fun and creative way
+ Include both images and video
+ Puzzle solve triggers on-rails exit out of room
+ Allow travel back and forth between display areas
Conference guests of Body of Knowledge: Embodied Cognition 2018
Hailing from a range of backgrounds in academia, tech, art, music, and design, attendees of this conference are driven, empathetic people excited to share and learn about the intersections of psychology, identity, neuroscience, and creativity. They are excited to explore the contemporary landscape of work in this field and are hoping for inspiration (and potential connections) to future projects.
The user starts in a circular museum space, and the camera pans in a loop to different view screens along the outer circumference. On-rails movement controlled by << and >> buttons at every ‘station’. Simple and small UI so as not to distract from large view-screens.
USER TEST & FEEDBACK - 27 y/o artist
Aesthetic: The vibe is great but seems incomplete. Needs something in the
middle like a globe or a pedestal or something.
Display: Opening UI is too wide, becomes hard to read on the edges.
Movement: Slightest bit too fast.
• Follow up: Put some form of anatomy in the center of the room, Fix UI size, slow down camera pan.
USER TEST & FEEDBACK - 22 y/o student
Aesthetic: The transparent body in the middle doesn’t really fit with mood of the room, everything else is great though. Needs background noise like wind or something.
Display: Works fine, hard to remember which image was selected though
Movement: Fine, would like to be placed closer to the buttons at each station to make it easier to click and look back at display.
• Follow up: Put some form of anatomy in the center of the room, change button hover color, shift waypoint position to the left of the display’s center.
USER TEST & FEEDBACK - 24 y/o musician
Aesthetic: “Its like I’m in an art gallery at the top of an observatory in the sky,” but it needs background music - the wind sounds don’t make it feel as epic as it could be.
Display: Fits perfectly with theme of place
Movement: All good, slow enough to be calming.
• Follow up: Replace wind ambient noise with background music (and have it fade appropriately when the trailer audio begins).
The space itself was built to mirror this very theme, with both visual references to a museum (grand architecture dedicated to presenting established facts and scientific theories), and an art gallery (a minimal canvas with and UI off to the side like information stacked on a title card/artist statement besides something creative). It’s almost a temporal space, not quite anywhere real nor too unreal - somewhat an allusion to the ambiguous relationship between the body and the mind. The color scheme, skybox and lighting was meant to convey warmth and limitless horizons, and the navigation color gradient alludes to a shift or a change. Finally, in the center sits a famous statue shaded an unexpected color in an attempt to ask its audience to rethink traditional references to the body.
Development-wise, it was great to see my skills strengthen and to continue expanding my knowledge of splines, animations, and events. That being said, my biggest takeaway from this project is that the best things come from intersections of different disciplines and thought. Conceptually, the opportunity to research and catch up on years worth of overlooked VR content gave me so much creative inspiration and motivation to seek out collaborators from different fields.