January 31, 2020

Julia Schäfer, a second year MFA student in the School of Art, was looking for ways to visualize memories when she came across Blended Reality. From the coordinator Justin Berry, she learned about using photogrammetry to scan various locations. After a few tries, she was hooked and began exploring it further, looking for ways this could help her with her memory piece. To Julia, Blended Reality is a place where “you can talk about the implications of technology and what immersive technologies do for us without getting too caught up in the rendering itself.” Now, her project, Seeing Trees, deals with memories as she takes photogrammetry images of buildings, trees, and other surroundings. Given the nature of photogrammetry, no photo completely captures everything around: there are always white gaps in the final image. “We move through places and memories are always full of gaps, especially places of transience,” she says, “They are kind of hard to remember.” While others try to patch up the gaps, Julia deliberately keeps them in because they represent the parts of a memory that are left out.

Photo Taken at Washington Square Park

However, she didn’t stop there. Together with Alex Kim, a student in the School of Architecture, she is using photogrammetry to address aspects of architecture that are usually not included in architectural renderings. “I want to think about what this medium brings combined with the moving image,” and Blended Reality gives her the platform to explore these options with other like-minded creatives. The duo are exploring how to create illusion or virtual mirages in a virtual space, like a mirage of an oasis in a desert or art that uses trompe-l’œil, the use of realistic images to create an optical illusion that the images are three dimensional. Perhaps there is a way to express alternate realities in immersive media, and Julia is on her way to find out.