AR/VR Write Up

This residency was a pilot and although rough around the edges, I can’t imagine there’s another in the world that has this level of equipment and technical support in this field. I approached it with an interest to create, however I should have been focused on meeting, working and talking with those around me. This is the best outcome I had from the entire
experience. Meeting and talking through ideas with Thomas, Philip, Phillipe, Marit, Theo, Nick and the artists Yaloo, Rosa and Victoria.

I’d spent the last year teaching myself, through the wonders of online resources, how to
create VR environments. I had never delved into any element of the pipeline before and now have at least a mild knowledge in some key areas. I only completed my MA in August of this year, so am naturally in a period of hunger to get going. Initially, I was frustrated with the opening workshops. After one day, it was fine, but 3 days of workshops where I felt I had to stop everything and listen began to frustrate me. To the point that on the last day of the workshops, even though I would have loved to learn about the topics, I wasn’t listening, and my motivation had swayed. It was amazing to hear from such well-seasoned professionals in the industry, however I was (and am still) in a period of drive to create. I don’t think it was the content of the workshops in the end, as understandably, not everyone will have played around with the necessary software. It was the intensity and compression of information. The pipeline is vast, and the residency is relatively short for what it aims to achieve. It seems to me that it would have been better to have a morning of workshops and an afternoon of creative application. This would allow for more of the information to settle. However, this frustration was a sort of ‘kid in a candy shop’ feeling. Oregon Story Board was very well kitted out for the aims of the residency, and I just wanted to run wild. For the majority of the time, this was allowed, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I wish I could do this on a day to day basis! My only issue with the space was its opening hours. I would have loved to be able to have more access to the kit in the night-time. Given the vast pipeline of VR / AR production, it would have been incredible for the residency to be longer than it was. Nonetheless, the time I spent there was invaluable and has already had a very positive impact on my practice.

Although the residency focused on the creation of AR/VR, at points I felt more contextual and conceptual discussion was needed. After all, as artists we’re not there to become technicians, but instead to shed a new perspective on everyday things that we usually don’t give a moment’s notice, or perhaps a balance between these two areas of creativity. At art school, one of the most valuable things I took part in was to discuss my work with professional mid / late career artists and gallerists in similar fields with similar interests. These would be half an hour one to one talks, (sometimes longer), where you are told to explain what you’re doing. Essentially, it’s a short concentrated period of reflection on why you’re doing what you’re doing. As defining fine art seems to be a constant battle with existentialism and reason, I think these discussions are important. (I say that unless of course the art is intentionally trying to reject that battle…). It seems even more essential for artists taking the leap into technology that a focus on conceptual knowledge over technical is re-iterated by practicing artists in the field. I had a brilliant discussion with Theo and Marit on the final day however would have loved a dialogue throughout. There was some discussion between the residents, even some constructive heated debate, but not enough in my opinion. Having said that, and having had some time to reflect, I am approaching my current work with a better awareness of empathy towards the subjects I draw inspiration from and have a revived openness to collaboration (and Unity!). Having jumped into the residency straight from the competitive arena that is art school, this has been a healthy and positive next step. Its value is coming clearer as times moves on.

We were neither advised or prompted to make a piece of work. However, from receiving the email of acceptance, I knew I wanted to create something and preferably with the Hololens. I’ve seen so many demonstrations of it online, and have anticipated its impact. Having now tried it, it’s not perfect, and in many ways, it’s so obviously imperfect that it already feels primitive, (not that I’ve seen what it evolves to become.) For some strange reason, it reminded me of the original Gameboy, a palm pilot or an Apple 1.

My whole experience was constructive, informative and on reflection, integral to evolving my practice. Since being back in London, I’m working on a VR experience on the subject of grief. Having spent the two weeks looking into perceived empathy in AR/VR, the residency has been a great starting point to jump into this next project. One of the best outcomes I’ve found has been a re-vitalized confidence in my abilities to create AR/VR content, (I’ve also gone back to Unity). This has come about through discussing my technique and work with those around me on the residency, particularly Thomas, Theo, Philip (Blender Guru II) and Marit. The speakers and professionals that attended the workshops were knowledgeable and from backgrounds that gave a varied insight into the industry. They are the type of minds I wish I could work with on a daily basis. Meeting the other artists and members of the residency was invaluable, and I hope to maintain friendships and/or working relationships with everyone! I can’t speak for others experiences on other residencies, but for my first residency, it was as good and impactful as I’d hoped.

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