November 9, 2018

This academic year and the third year of the Blended Reality research project is kicking off with some new and exciting structural shifts. Based on learnings from the past two years, the goal is to create a strongly supported group of students who are paired with one or multiple projects. In the past, the pairing of students and projects was somewhat informal. While this ultimately worked out well, this new structure connects more knowledgeable students with more projects than ever before.

The name of this new student group is called the Verb Collective. No, it’s not an acronym. A verb is a part of speech. And the Verb Collective is a larger body of graduate and undergraduate students who both support and connect the various Blended Reality projects. These students are paid to work on a project, while also meeting as a group once a week to learn new skills and teach each other.

A student putting together a model of a VR glove

So why did they name themselves the Verb Collective? The name is loosely based on the artist Richard Serra’s Verb List – A list of verbs that that interact with each to create new and divergent actions. The Verb Collective is exploring emerging media and the root vocabulary words for describing and understanding this media. For instance, when you look at film, the verb is to watch. What is the primary verb for VR? Perhaps the verb is to be. The exploration of this question is the foundation for all of projects this year.

A teacher and students during a Blended Reality workshop.

Any Yale student with an idea can participate in the Verb Collective. From a PhD candidate in Physics, to an undergraduate in Psychology, to an MFA student in Sound Design, to a School of Divinity graduate student, all are welcome.  Many students learned about the collective while attending Blended Reality workshops that were hosted at the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media last year.

A girl and three other students working on something using clay.

One topic that was covered in a Verb Collective meeting this year was to explore new possibilities with controllers. In most contexts, the current controller is a pistol group. What would be a more intuitive and accessible controller that opens up new opportunities for meaningful interaction? The group explored the possibilities while constructing new controllers.

A VR hand controller model made from clay, made by one of the students.