SPARKS July 2021

Music in Social VR: Education, Installation, Conferences, and Performance


New York, USA Fri, July 16, 2021 at 4:00 pm EDT  

Presenters: Kenneth J. Stewart, Jil Christensen, and David Zielinksi

During the past year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the already in progress shift towards remote learning and remote interactions. While Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have been the main tools used in this recent phase, we desire more “presence” than these 2D platforms seem to allow. Recent developments of low-cost Virtual Reality (VR) headsets coupled with the rise of multi-user “Social VR” platforms, have led to a situation in which casual users without expensive gaming setups can easily attend shared VR experiences. 

In this talk we will discuss the various ways we have utilized Social VR (via the Altspace platform) for musical purposes. We will discuss our experience of hosting educational music lectures that utilized custom built virtual instruments, creating a kinetic sound sculpture for virtual Burning Man (BRCvr), and building an exhibit hall for a virtual gala session for the Society of Electro Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) conference. Additionally we will discuss our thoughts on the possibilities and pitfalls of musical performance in Social VR along with a glimpse into our plans for the future.