Last Semester’s Final Project was our first endeavour into virtual reality installations, and also our first venture into immersive works. We knew heading into this project it was quite ambitious, and that it would seem more challenging than what it sounded like when we pitched it. For awhile, we struggled with the right way to approach our topic and medium, how best to create a work that was immersive on two-fold. Immersive with the design of the room, and of the headset. We seemed to be highly focused on triggering all of a respondents senses, touch, sight, smell, etc. It seemed like the obvious approach, but i think this may have been where we started to go wrong.
Where I felt we succeeded in our project was its overall presence it generated. It certainly created a moment of transportation when one is walking through the piece, but if it translated to ‘immersive’ in the definition we sought was unclear. Our choice of materials and placements made for it to be aesthetically appealing, and many people commented on the spectacle it created and how impressive it looked.
Our weakest link, was the VR, which we failed to anticipate. We were grasping with a technology we hadn’t fully mastered, and was much a learning process as we developed the project. We had expected the VR to be the most immersive element of the installation, and was surprised by the feedback that most people didn’t connect to it. VR and art is still a rather infantile niche, and people might not have been familiar with it, or perhaps we had needed different content. We had struggled with including a narrative also in our project, and having no explicit narrative led to our viewers becoming confused with the direction of our project. If we had made another iteration, many things would have been included, or attempted to include such as a narrative.
I don’t plan on exploring VR and 360 video for the time being. I feel we tapped on a really potent technology for engaging with media art, and its full potential is yet to be realised. It’s power lies within a slightly different approach, like those of Don’t Follow the Wind or Clouds Over Sidra, with an emphasis on the empathetic element that VR holds the key.