Weekly meetings and regular public workshops led by project participants will create forums for sharing creative research. Project participants will each conduct public workshops, on topics related to their research within the framework of AR/VR.
This project will create a platform for creative interdisciplinary exploration of Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies between the arts areas at Yale, resulting in free public workshops that are open to the broader Yale community.
Emerging Technologies Through the Arts: Crossroads
Human beings are story tellers, and the arts are the vehicles through which our stories are told, heard, and remembered. For centuries, we told stories through painting and sculpture, through song, dance and theater. The printing press, the camera, and film — each revolutionary in its time — opened vast new possibilities; those possibilities expanded again when radio and television came on the scene.
With digital technologies both enabling and requiring new ways of thinking, seeing and communicating, the Crossroads project team took as its challenge the creation of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) experiences using interactive and immersive media technologies. “Our goals,” says faculty member Justin Berry, “were to enable interdisciplinary research with emergent technologies in the arts areas at Yale, and foster interdisciplinary dialogues among the arts.” He notes that they also wanted to establish a platform for sharing knowledge and research with the broader Yale community in the areas of AR/VR, using mixed reality tools.
To those ends, the team of five graduate students from the School of Art and the School of Drama, led by Berry, conducted research that pushed boundaries of interaction and immersion through a series of projects that created AR/VR experiences. The individual and collaborative research conducted by team members, who participated in weekly meetings, resulted in a dozen free workshops offered to the entire Yale community throughout the spring 2017 semester.
Thematically, the workshops explored topics including psycho‐spatial interaction, gaming and social interaction, animation, and the psychological affects of kinetic perception. Workshop participants — who did not need any prior knowledge of the technology for most of the sessions — could learn how to perform 3-D scans, build a mixed reality musical instrument, capture live performance using a 360 degree camera, or interact with their computers using tiny virtual hands. Student projects included animating virtual versions of traditional sculptures, augmented reality experiences that engaged acts of discovery in public spaces, interactive multimedia installation, and immersive animated video.
In addition, members of the Crossroads team and Blended Reality workshop participants organized an exhibition of VR works at Essex Flowers Gallery in downtown Manhattan. The exhibition, entitled The Sands, paid homage to one of Las Vegas Boulevard’s original hotel-casino complexes, with all the hyper-real qualities for which The Strip is famous.
Curated by members of the Crossroads team, fifteen works by sixteen participating artists offered virtual creations that visitors explored and interacted with as they walked around the empty real-life gallery space. The virtual gallery space was mapped at one-to-one scale with the physical gallery, creating landmark references that traversed both environments. Artworks were programmed to randomly enter and exit the gallery, creating a dynamic experience that ensured no two experiences in the virtual space would be exactly identical. Half of the show’s artists were participants in the Crossroads team’s spring workshops, including both Yale graduate students and faculty.
Looking back on a successful semester, Berry reflects on the larger significance of the team’s work. “We as a culture do not yet have a critical language to describe what it might mean to occupy two different kinds of reality,” he says. “I am proud that we wound up with a really good product, and that the work we did was so well-received. But even if we had not had such success, I would have been glad to create the context for dialogue and engagement. There is real, necessary, and practical value in having artists take apart these media, as artists do, to help all of us understand them better.”
Justin Berry, Critic, Yale School of Art
Justin Berry is an artist whose work has been exhibited internationally in various venues. Recent issues of Art Review, Frieze, Pin-up magazine, Media-N, and Prattfolio have included writing about his practice.
Michael Commendatore is studying projection design at the Yale School of Drama. His main focus is integrating video media with live performance in the theatre, but in the past couple years has expanded to dance, opera, concerts, installations and now virtually reality. His interactive virtual reality installation project will explore the idea of being immersed in the present taking you on a never ending journey through space.
Will Wheeler believes that virtuality asks for empathy. By giving virtual bodies voice and visibility in forms not typically expected, Will hopes to challenge conceptions of what can be allowed and related to in the “real” world.
Teddy Mathias is a designer currently studying at the Yale School of Art. His work aims to activate new modes of perception and interaction enabled by emerging technology. His projects encourage exploration and play as a way of reconnecting ourselves with the physical world. Teddy is also a musician in the band Filligar and serves with the band as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors through the State Department.
Young Joo Lee: Yale School of Art, Sculpture ‘17.
Wladmiro Woyno Rodriguez is a set, lighting and projection designer/technologist passionate about live performance. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, he studied theatre production at the Banff Centre and design at the University of British Columbia. Currently, he is enrolled at the Yale School of Drama as an MFA Candidate in Design. A devoted collaborator with the creative teams of several companies, he is flexible, thorough and creatively involved in telling stories.
With a technical background in stage lighting, video and carpentry, his work explores the adaptation of new technologies into the theatrical tradition. Interested in the development of theatre spaces, show control and scenography, he is an avid reader, constantly learning, inventing and exploring.
Johnny Moreno is a Cinematographer, Producer, Editor & Projection Designer based in New York City & Mexico City, D.F. whose work ranges from Long & Short Form Independent Films, Concert Video Direction, Projection Installation & Commercial TV, Web & Corporate Production.