WORK BEGINS ON FLY ANGEL SOUL –Our experimental short shot entirely in VR

The “windows” we used for viewing in our In My Own Skin virtual installation, morph into the decorative grille/grids of Malian architecture (where the film takes place)

FAS tells the story of Sebastian, a young gay physician, estranged from his rural Catholic Missouri family, who, having moved to Mali to heal the sick, is diagnosed with AIDS. Inspired by a quote from Meister Eckhart that we might “rejoice in the everlasting truth in which the highest angel and the soul and the fly are equal,” FAS will be created using Unity’s Cinemachine software with three networked cameras adopting the p.o.v of the eponymous characters. What each camera “hears and sees and how each moves depends in part upon the actions of the other cameras in real time. The cameras function as the “players,” both in the video game sense and in a theatrical sense. The cameras’ real-time “performance” is the material for the 2D film. Thus, in FAS, “liveness” resides in the “embodied” cameras as much as in the actors whose performance is pre-recorded with volumetric video. Thus, the film, itself, is a poetic documentation of both human and computer machinations. Montage, as such, will not come through a post-production editing process, but occurs and becomes manifest as a result of the procedural logic of the game engine + the incommensurable logic of the human operator/performer. In keeping with Eckhart’s intent, the final film will display all the p.o.v’s on one screen,  a tripartate montage of images and sounds, not created in post, but recorded “live” in real time. 

Even though we work with cutting edge technology, I start projects with paper and scissors and glue. Today, Cyril, who is now used to this came over to discuss what I’d come up with. (queerskins a novel queerskins.com began with a 100 page pile of collages that I showed Cyril at lunch one day. They were made on children’s colored construction paper as I’d work late at night after my two young kids were asleep and that was all I had available at the time I started.)

It’s wild to see how your mind builds on things–the delving into architecture and windows for viewing in our In My Own Skin project last year is taken up ten levels. In this project, architectural space and light actual become as integral to the film as the actors.

Ophuls is a major influence for the set in scene 2 (use of multiple patterns/textures/l) which find there real equivalent in contemporary Malian apartment rentals!

We will build a set based on radial forms –see the original plan for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome above.

Other artists’ inspire–screens by Jorge Pardo and paintings/installation by Lucio Fontana. I

In the final scene, I note that the Angel which manifests to the human as light is powerful force inspiring awe and terror.. Cyril and I spent part of our time today discussing “how does an angel see?” So, I look for this brain worm, later and find it on my shelf in Rilke’s Duino Elegies

“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic orders? And, even if one of them pressed me suddenly to his heart: I’d be consume in his stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we can just barely endure, and we stand in awe of it as it coolly disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrifying. ” So, I guess this has been living in my mind all these years, waiting to emerge!

Jerome Foundation Awards Us a Grant to Shoot a 2D Experimental Film in VR!

Fly Angel Soul is a short experimental narrative film shot within virtual reality which explores the potential for virtual production techniques to expand two dimensional cinematic language. FAS tells the story of Sebastian, a young gay physician, estranged from his rural Catholic Missouri family, who, having moved to Mali to heal the sick, is diagnosed with AIDS. Inspired by a quote from Meister Eckhart that we might “rejoice in the everlasting truth in which the highest angel and the soul and the fly are equal,” FAS will be created using Unity’s Cinemachine software with three networked cameras adopting the p.o.v of the eponymous characters. What each camera “hears and sees and how each moves depends in part upon the actions of the other cameras in real time. These positions are not characters, per se. They function as aspects of Sebastian’s interior milieu. Although all three p.o.v. will be equally represented in the final film, using a split screen, FAS unapologetically privileges the ineffable workings of the human heart as the driving and unprogrammable logic of the film. The human camera is the only one operated by an actual living being. The angel and fly exist as state machine, pre-programmed virtual entities.

Looking to “embodied” films like Max Ophul’s Le Plaisir for inspiration

We are not advocating an impossible return to a pre-technical state of “nature”, rather, we are asking what suffering means in our technologically embedded existence.If as Jean-Luc Godard famously stated, “The tracking shots are a matter of morality,” the use of virtual cameras in agile film production brings up pressing ethical questions which have yet to be confronted. In FAS, a “simple” and universal story of human suffering–a diagnosis of terminal illness–AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic, invites viewers to contemplate how suffering is mediated using digital technologies. Our intent is to construct the film in a way that reasserts an embodied, participatory perspective, one that acknowledges the primacy of a “human” perspective while, at the same time, offering the audience alternative, perhaps transcendent computer-mediated ways of seeing, hearing and moving through the same story.


In FAS, all three cameras function as the “players,” both in the video game sense and in a theatrical sense. The cameras’ real-time “performance” is the material for the 2D film. Thus, in FAS, “liveness” resides in the “embodied” cameras as much as in the actors whose performance is pre-recorded with volumetric video. Thus, the film, itself, is a poetic documentation of both human and computer machinations. Montage, as such, will not come through a post-production editing process, but occurs and becomes manifest as a result of the procedural logic of the game engine + the incommensurable logic of the human operator/performer. In keeping with Eckhart’s intent, the final film will display all the p.o.v’s on one screen, a tripartite ever changing montage of images and sounds, not created in post, but recorded “live” in real time.

Ordinary Gesture VR Performance Art Work Premieres at The Museum of Other Realities November 2021

Raja’s performance translated to a VR avatar in Ordinary Gesture

We had the great pleasure of working with rising star Raja Feather Kelly to realize his first VR work Ordinary Gesture. For the first time, I had the opportunity to act as both creative producer and co-director for a work that was not my own, and I loved it. The team (Raja, Me, Cyril Tsiboulski working as Art and Technical Director and Lead Developer and Christoph Mateka doing Sound Design and Score composition) collaborated with an ease and respect and openness that nourished all of our creativity. Thanks to Artizen and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival who commissioned this work.

From Raja: “Ordinary Gesture is a Virtual Reality Theatrical experience that intersects theatre, meditation, and movement. The experience seeks to surrealize the experience of empathy by situating the player in 5 scenes that expand from their body to space-time (the universe) and back again. Inspired by the movies Magnolia, Melancholia, Waking Life, the poem You Are Never Ready by Nicole Blackman, and the writing of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, Ordinary Gesture asks the player to contemplate existence, suffering, compassion, and gesture as both ingredients to create theatre and a means to perhaps better understand empathy.”

We have plans to further develop this work and find additional venue/arts institution partners so that audiences outside of the VR festival world can experience these.

My Talk at Games for Change on “#Aesthetics and #Empathy: Why #Art Matters”

Really happy with the response to my talk today.

” Wonderful, especially drawing inspiration from Bergson, Lakoff & Johnson, Damasio, Baudrillard!” was one comment.

Also, Hilma af Klint, Sarah Ahmed, Jakob von Uexkull and Marshall McLuhan…Since I have no tech or art background, I feel free to draw on and seek inspiration from a range of sources. I really wish I could teach at the university level, but my M.D. doesn’t go far in academia and institutions are, often, unfortunately, very resistant to new ideas. The thing is, I love teaching and students really enjoy my style and mind (I taught narrative VR design at Independent Film Producers Center in NYC, the student clapped after almost every class…) So, if you are game, hit me up!

I’m going to post my slides and a draft of my paper (warning–this was not for publication, so expect spelling mistakes and grammatical errors) and eventually, I’m sure G4C will post the talk on YouTube. Thanks to all who attended. If you are free, please stop by the Expo (free, but you need to register https://www.gamesforchange.org )–I’ll be taking your questions from 11-12:30 tomorrow at the Queerskins: Ark virtual booth. And from 1:30 -2PM I will be in wild conversation with Queerskins’ actor Michael DeBartolo talking queerness, dance, VR, bodies and more. He’ll do some live readings from Sebastian’s diary, too. Join the conversation!

I’m also excited that Queerskins: ARK is garnering interest in academia! It’s really great when people think your work is important enough to actually do an in-depth analysis and publish a paper on it. Thank you!

Queerskins: ARK 360˚ Version Comes to Oculus TV

Oculus decided that for Pride Month Queerskins is worthy of mention! We wish it were not just for Pride, but, we will take it. The good news is that it means is that YOU can see a 360˚ video version of Queerskins: ARK on your Quest on Oculus TV . Beautiful performances by Hadley Boyd, Michael DeBartolo and Christopher Vo. It is not the same as the interactive obviously, but as far as I know, the only pas de deux between two men in VR–intimate, sexy, joyful, sublime. Exquisite score by Wilbert Roget, II. Carl Nassib, this one is for you. Visibility matters. Love wins!

Join Me @G4C Talk on #Aesthetics and #Empathy

You could go to the Unity for Humanity panel Monday July 12th at 1:30 PM at the Games for Change Festival or you could geek out on my talk where I’ll argue that aesthetics are critical to empathy and may actually be the nature of reality. Think Bergson, queer phenomenology, Kojeve’s end of history, Heidegger’s broken hammer and mirror neurons. I’ll be expanding on points in our recent paper published in The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts. Join me!!

Our paper “Empathy as Aesthetic Sympathy in VR: Lessons from Queerskins: ARK” has been published

Abstract

We describe the design of Queerskins: ARK, a virtual reality (VR) narrative artwork featuring pre-recorded 3D volumetrically rendered human dancers portraying same-sex lovers. Rather than adopt a more conventional perspective-taking, we created novel opportunities for connection and intimacy by utilizing a unique movement based language and a magical-realist aesthetic. The design process was aided by a series of prototyping exercises with live participants. In the final test, we found that all participants experienced positive emotions in the scenes where the gay couple appeared and felt more connected to the men, as measured by the inclusion of other in self (IOS) scale, than to the other main character (mother) who was presented in a more realistic way. Reviewing the history of empathy and relevant neuropsychological literature, we offer possible mechanisms for these findings and argue for broadening research into the ways aesthetics and movement could be used to promote empathy in VR.

We love thinking. We love sharing our ideas and design process so others can learn from our discoveries and mistakes. This takes a lot of time, and if you aren’t in academia, it doesn’t count for much on a CV, but we hope more artists make their creative processes public.

DM me for a copy. Also, yes, I am available for public talks at conferences or for guest lecturing spots at universities. I am a lively and out of the box thinker/speaker and I love doing it.

https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/empathy-as-aesthetic-sympathy-in-virtual-reality

#Designing #Worlds in #VR a conversation with #architect Beom Jun Kim @wa.k_studio in #VRChat for @cphdox

Part 1/11 BJK and I discuss the potential and limitations of virtual spaces and architecture, in the “In My Own Skin” installation in “Community Labs” section of VRChat

It’s interesting to think about where architecture in VR is a proxy for “real life” and where it fails. Clearly touch and smell and the nuances of sounds in a space are generally missing. That is also one reason that I have found virtual exhibitions of art usually wanting because “reality” becomes the standard, the golden ring, and VR will never be the same as that. But, what if we saw this as an opportunity to see what VR makes possible such as walls that emit sound as you move by or that morph with proximity or distance?

In My Own Skin OPENS tomorrow at CPH: DOX

Words fail to capture who we are and who we can be.

You have never experienced a photography exhibition like this. We use a procedural “game” logic to create an installation which makes the experience of viewing the art, a critical part of the art, itself. In My Own Skin is a public world which you can find in the “Community Labs” section of “Worlds” in VRChat. You will need any VR headset, including Quest, or a PC and a free VRChat account to access. The installation features wearable avatars that you can choose between to proclaim who you are or who you would like to. be. Tickets fo live events are available here.

The plan, eventually, is to offer a full set of 20 avatars for you to choose from to proclaim your “true identity” as you explore our interactive photography installation “In My Own Skin” in VR Chat. Each line below will be emblazoned on a sleeveless t-shirt. I call these anti-Google categories of identity. And, standing together with your fellow performers you can form poem(s). At CPH: DOX, opening April 21, we will only have five, asterisked. This is really going into new territory for us and for our art. It takes a lot of time and we do it without pay. We are still learning, experimenting, processing. But, really, it is a beautiful, strange, strong, wondrous work. Please come by. You will be glad you did.

You see me, then

Everything I am not

scared, most days

Lying to myself

Unsure

Memory of something

Snaking, seeping

Hiding, biding

Pink ribbons in my hair

*Something bursts

*(out )

*Masculine

*Feminine*

*In Your Face

Braver than I was

I am,perhaps,

becoming

An other.