Virtual worlds provide a platform in which to construct compelling experiences augmenting the material and temporal constraints of the physical world. The virtual realm has the potential to be united and engaged by physicality – informing and transforming the audience’s aesthetic experience in a profoundly transformative nature. John Fillwalk and Jesse Allison from the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts at Ball State University have been incorporating mixed-reality approaches into interactive performances, installation, environment, and interfaces employing various virtual environments and bridging technologies. These hybrid reality experiences – analyzing approaches to bridging with worlds with media streaming, client-side interaction, web services, external web server communication hubs – also provide opportunities for human/computer interaction.
One of the most engaging features of virtual worlds is their ability to represent our physicality in a three-dimensional spatialised dynamic environment. Through the simacrulum of the avatar, we can negotiate simulated space through this representation of our selves. This vicarious connection to virtualised spaces provides experiences that can transcend more typical screen-based digital phenomena. More compelling still is when the plane of the screen or fourth wall is expanded to incorporate physical reality in the design of time-based and spatialised hybrid mixedreality constructions.
The participant becomes the mediator of these inputs, negotiating the relations between imagery, sound and interactions – thus positioned as the active conduits between the worlds in providing rich opportunities (relevant to experience) – making physical and cognitive connections that result in the fundamental link across the divide. Experiences channeled vicariously through the avatar create a compelling association between the participant and virtual space. As avenues and cues are provided to the participant’s associated avatar to have a new influence over the physical world, reflexively they also can affect the course of the virtual. The bridge is thus strengthened and the experience deepened – eventually creating a context of parallel reality.
In spanning between continuums of physicality and virtuality, connections can be integrated bilaterally, augmenting and extending experiences in both dimensions. Media, geometry, data and information from physical reality can inform the virtual realm and vice versa. This presentation will outline several hybrid reality artworks employing various technologies, detailing motivation, methodology and outcomes.
- John Fillwalk Director of the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts, Ball State University, US
- Jesse Allison IDIA Virtual Worlds and Interactive Art Research Specialist, Louisiana State University, US