[ISEA2019] Artists Statement: Jinsil Hwaryoung Seo, Michael Bruner, Austin Payne & Nathan Ayres – Upwell: Performative Immersion

Artists Statement

Virtual Reality, dimensions variable

People unconsciously long to be immersed in nature that provides shelter and comfort. Through activities like camping, hiking, and swimming, people can relax and be immersed in nature. However, nature has two sides: virtue and vice, life and death. While seeking comfort in the forest or beach, a person may feel fearful about the possibility that a wild animal may appear and attack. Even though the ocean is very pretty but a person may have fears of drowning in the ocean. All of these fears may prevent people from fully enjoying and experiencing the beauty of the natural world.
Upwell is an immersive virtual reality environment that provokes the feeling of being underwater but allows embodied interaction within the environment. Undulating characteristics, including tenderness, flux, softness, and buoyancy, all add to the feeling of being underwater. Upwell is a refuge from nature that provides playful immersion without vulnerability. A participant with a conventional VR head-mounted display and custom-designed wearable controllers can navigate around a room scale setup and interacts with dynamic visual and sound elements. Upwell was originally designed as a dance performance with two dancers. The exhibited version of Upwell at ISEA invites a participant to a performance and evokes performative gestures in the virtual reality space. Upwell becomes a dance theatre for a single person performance.

  • Jinsil Hwaryoung Seo is an interactive artist/researcher focusing on the aesthetics of interactive experiences. Currently, she is an associate professor in the Department of Visualization at the College of Architecture and a faculty fellow in the Institute for Applied Creativity and the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University, USA. Seo received a PhD in Interactive Art and Technology from Simon Fraser University in Canada and an MFA in Computer Arts from the School of Visual Arts (SVA). With interdisciplinary, interactive art practice, Seo investigates the intersection between body, nature, and technology. Seo has been fascinated by the aesthetic qualities of human experience, the relationships that emerge through interactions within artworks, the underlying beauty, and pattern inherent in nature. Her current research concentrates on designing for tangible and kinetic aesthetics in the contexts of education and health. Seo has chosen interactive art for her creative practice and research in particular as it encourages immersive and embodied relationships within a work of art and with participants.
  • Michael Bruner
  • Austin Payne
  • Nathan Ayres