Immersive Expressions

Virtual Reality on the Web

Curated by: Derick Ostrenko

Exhibition Opening: May 2017

Submission Information:

Virtual Reality presents a range of new possibilities for immersive expression and interactivity for artists and developers. The ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community is seeking projects for an online exhibition that explores the web browser as a medium for work at the intersection of creative expression and virtual reality. VR has had an exceptionally fast growing user base over the past three years with head mounted display options becoming increasingly portable and affordable. Along with the growing list of hardware variations like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR a number of new distribution models have also been released such as HTC Viveport, Oculus Store, Samsung VR or WEARVR. While much of the content delivered on these platforms are made to be experienced inside of game engines, VR has also made its way to the browser through a variety of projects using WebGL and three.js.

 

We are looking to showcase and discover new content that pushes conceptual or technological boundaries. It is important that these works be web-based. Online VR works are unique because they exist in the browser, unlike apps relegated to approval by a major distributor. We hope to engage indie developers, artists, computer scientists, and companies working at the forefront of web-based VR through the development of the exhibition. 

 

The WebVR W3C Specification Draft has laid the foundation for content designers to build frameworks and applications for a multitude of browsers and hardware devices. This includes VR initiatives such as Mozilla’s MozVR Team (mozvr.com) and accompanying A-Frame javascript framework. Oculus has also announced the ReactVR framework for enabling web-based VR experiences on the Rift in addition to inexpensive head-mounted displays such as Google Cardboard, Daydream View, or Samsung Gear. Artists and developers new to the WebVR arena are encouraged to apply and can take advantage of these resources.

 

We also encourage VR experiences and interactions that might not fit inside a typical commercial package. This includes works that are more abstract and conceptual, or those created by independent developers with a unique approach to virtual reality. Criteria for inclusion will involve technological innovation, creativity, design, and concept. Submissions could potentially include interactive experiments, games, animation, 360-degree video experiences or a hybrid approach. This call for work welcomes artistic interpretation and collaborations working from any discipline or intersection of art, science, design, and technology.

Description:

Virtual Reality presents new possibilities for immersive expression and interactivity for artists and developers. Immersive Expressions explores the web browser as a medium for work at the intersection of creative expression and virtual reality. VR has had an exceptionally fast growing user base since 2014 with head-mounted display options becoming increasingly portable and affordable. Alongside the growing list of headset variations like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear, Google Daydream and Cardboard a number of distribution platforms have cropped up such as HTC Viveport, Steam’s VR content, WEARVR, Oculus Store, Jaunt, Wevr, and Within. While much of the content delivered on these platforms are made to be experienced inside of game engines or are purely cinematic, VR is also making its way into the browser via the new WebVR JavaScript API which leverages existing technologies such as WebGL and Web Audio.

In fact most works in this exhibition use the new W3C WebVR specification or a “polyfill” substitute. This important effort has laid the foundation for content designers to build common applications and frameworks for a multitude of browsers and hardware devices. The WebVR specification standardizes the detection of available VR hardware and its capabilities as well as polling of the headset’s position and orientation while displaying content on the device at the appropriate frame rate. Several VR frameworks which rely on the development of this specification stand out in this exhibition including Mozilla A-Frame and Oculus ReactVR.

Even though WebVR is still a fledgling technology it is apparent that it affords makers new opportunities for expression. Simply by existing in the browser content can be seamlessly discovered, digested, and experienced by participants more fluidly than relying on an app marketplace. Compared to other VR platforms this makes WebVR more directly woven into the fabric of our online experiences foreshadowing a time when the web could primarily be experienced through an immersive interface. Online VR works are unique because they exist in the browser, unlike apps relegated to approval by a major distributor. Indie developers, artists, computer scientists, and companies working at the forefront of web-based VR are represented in this exhibition.

While selecting works for the show the reviewers looked for VR experiences and interactions that might not fit inside a typical commercial package. This includes works that are more abstract and conceptual, or those created by independent developers with a unique approach to virtual reality. Immersive Expressions showcases new content that pushes conceptual or technological boundaries on the web. Selected works include interactive experiments, games, animation, 360-degree video experiences and hybrid approaches. The works demonstrate a sophisticated level of artistic interpretation and highlights collaborations working at the intersection of art, science, design, and technology.

Curator/Organizers(s):

Derick Ostrenko

Frederick “Derick” Ostrenko is a media artist and Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University (LSU). He holds a joint-appointment in the Digital Art concentration at the School of Art and the Cultural Computing research group at the Center for Computation and Technology (CCT). Derick creates physical and virtual systems that examine the intersections of media, culture, and technology. He employs custom hardware and software that use various interfaces such as mobile applications, brain waves, generative visualizations, video processing, animation, and games. His research focuses on pushing art and technology to reveal hidden networks between people by creating structures for innovative forms of expression and discovery. Derick received his MFA in Digital+Media from the Rhode Island School of Design. Derick is a member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community Committee.