Inspired by space, human's relationship with nature, and nature's relationship with technology, the interactive installation 'We - The Common Body' triggers a VR experience from combining the worlds of nature and technology.
The work consists of three pieces.
Installation overview video
Part A : 'This view has potential'
Object A resembles a defensive structure, which can symbolize the relationship between humans and nature. It is a ball-incubator populated by thousands of earthworms. The biohumus produced by them travels to the sensor grid, then, the signals are sent to computers and controllers, which also read the temperature in the incubator, all in the real-time.
Part B : 'Vanitasity'
Object B was inspired by the construction of the James Webb space telescope, which emphasizes the exploratory nature of the work. It is a group of thirteen transparent domes illuminated by LED lights that are controlled by the drivers referred to in Part A.
Part C : 'Virtual phenotype'
Object C is inspired by the death penalty chair as a post-human era representation. It is a publicly accessible chair with a VR helmet mounted, in which you can observe the interpretation of the signals referred to in part A in real-time.
While earthworms in part A of the installation, unconsciously control the LED lights in part B of the installation, the VR world and viewers sitting in the chair also unconsciously activate the audio layer in the room where the work is located.
Experience is primarily explorative - we can observe the life of earthworms in Part A, and the accompanying flashes of light from Part B, which represent an unconscious expression. Our intention was to present humans as a small part of a larger universe, and our goal was to demonstrate how humans are observers, only partaking in the creation of reality. While watching the work, we are accompanied by disturbing sounds, a consistent ambient-drone in the background suppressed with typical earthworm sounds; slick, watery, and growing. The audio provokes some kind of discomfort for the viewer. Moving from Part B to Part C increases anxiety, because the chair, which resembles a typical death penalty chair is supposed to move us to the final Part or element of the installation - Virtual Reality.
The VR world represents an exploratory journey. There, we meet various stages of migration (difficulties and overcoming difficulties). Our existence within a large universe where we are observers and not more than contributors, is enhanced by the appearance of Object C, the death penalty chair, and the symbolic 'closing' of the viewer, within the VR helmet.
Virtual Phenotype - VR experience
After setting up the VR goggles, we experience a sharp forward movement as we glide just above a black frozen ice sheet, which lights up with the temperature rising in the middle of the habitat inhabited by earthworms (Object A). Our trip is accompanied by falling lights from the sky, triggered by the increase of humidity under object A. On the horizon, there is a shape that we cannot determine at first. Our virtual journey is divided into four stages of migration: the journey to the destination, the goal and the discovery of the next one, the struggle and difficulties, and the ultimate goal which is that all stages have their own disturbing character.
Audio plays an important role immediately upon observing the installation, as well as within the VR experience.
The sounds of the installation (outside of the VR experience) are not pleasant, yet dreamy. They introduce and influence the viewer into a monotonous mood, suppressed by anxiety and alienation. A 2X stereo configuration allows one to observe the outlines of the VR sound space, by projecting the audio from the virtual world. The audio within the VR world serves as an 'extraction', immersing the viewer into 360 degrees of observation and characterization of individual elements inside this world.
The sounds of this experience are from elements recorded from the installation and its environment, where the work was built and exhibited. Followed by postproduction, elements are slowed down spectrally and go through a special set of effects, like echo and distortion. The interactive audio piece is inspired by NASA's research on how electromagnetic waves are converted into acoustic waves.
We used Wwise to spatialize the audio field of work. It allowed us to connect sounds with individual 3D elements, each of which would acquire a particular characteristic. In our virtual world, there are falling flares, and using Wwise we were able to attach each of the flares to the sound which accompanied it in space, wherever it would appear. This allowed us to ensure that we impel the viewer to look around the space. Wwise and its spatial audio features and capacities, empowered us to give our world and VR experience naturalness, with all its abstractness.