Spatiality in Virtual Reality: Representation, Interpretation & Experience

Moderated by: Augustus Wendell and Victoria Szabo
Date and Time: January 27, 2023

New York, USA Fri, Jan 27, 2023 at 4:00 pm EST
Chicago, USA Fri, Jan 27, 2023 at 3:00 pm CST
Los Angeles, USA Fri, Jan 27, 2023 at 1:00 pm PST
UTC, Time Zone Fri, Jan 27, 2023 at 9:00 pm

  View the Recording of the Session: https://vimeo.com/820396656

Session Description:

This SPARKS session centers on the representation, investigation, and interpretation of spatial form in virtual reality. Spatiality includes, but is not limited to, the landscape and the built environment. Digital tools provide the means for spatiality to intersect with a wide range of topics including performance, emotion, narrative, politics, and data science. From simulation to augmentation, analysis, and representation, digital tools participate deeply in our conception of space.

The Collaborative XR Design Lab
Yara Feghali     

We simultaneously occupy a multitude of virtual worlds whether through our social media profiles, online games, discussion forums, or extended reality avatars. We have entered since 2020 in a new digital era with internet technology, we are now in Web 3.0 or the Spatial Web where interfaces, computation, and data have drastically changed. Far from the antiquated concept of physical/virtual binary we now live in a technocultural society that encourages cyberfeminist pluralism, and indefiniteness. With The Collaborative XR Design Lab investigates the future of spatial web and immersive social spaces. The Lab is divided into four users, the Traders design the Marina and the Bazaar, the Explorers design the beaches and cultural spaces, the Dwellers design housing and parks for their dogs, the Farmers design land, and algae farms. We model each user’s avatars, buildings, infrastructure, asset packs, and mood boards through extensive research.

Window —— An Interactive Multimedia Installation On Quarantine Memory And Dream
Anna Borou Yu     

Window is an interactive multimedia installation that reconstructs the Quarantine environment of the artist Anna Borou Yu from the US to China, introducing the audience into the artist’s memory and dreams. While the room was the container of the physical body, the window became the metaphor of hope, spirit and imagination to the outer world. The use of point clouds, sound, texts and the aesthetics of transparency and vanishing delineate the space, which is the representation of the mental projection. With Kinect depth camera, projector and speakers, the project developed an interaction system where the audience would immerse into the soundscape and ocean of texts from the monologue written during the quarantine periods. Window aims to create a poetic digital experience, arouse the audience’s empathetic feeling together with the artist during the pandemic, and reflect on the relationship between body and space, the individual and the universe, the physical and the spiritual.

As Real as The Here: The Architecture of Post-Truth
Vivian Charlesworth     

I will discuss how fiction and architecture can merge together to discuss the shifting nature of truth and simulated environments within the context of my VR film, As Real as the Here. In this nonlinear VR film using deepfaked actors and dialogue appropriated from political speeches, the viewer is immersed in seven exaggerated architectures inspired by real political spaces and events. For example, the viewer may find themselves confronted by a fountain of the January 6th insurrection bubbling softly in the abandoned mega-mall, or seated as an audience member for the President’s fireside chat in a set of the oval office. The audience chooses what order to view the film, and in doing so constructs their own version of the narrative. Throughout, the viewer is asked to consider how their ideals are influenced and guided by their relationship to politics, propaganda, and media via an engagement with layers of simulation, replication, exaggeration, and fiction.

Liminal Experience in Virtual Reality
Desiree Foerster     

I present a multi-disciplinary study that uses virtual reality as a platform to explore experiences of indeterminacy. Three virtual environments were constructed that disrupt the anticipation of common relationships between the participants and space. We constructed a mirror room, a hyperbolic space, and played with invisible cues to create spatial puzzles that participants had to solve. While navigating these alien VR spaces, common behavioural strategies lost their meaning. I use the interview technique micro-phenomenology to explore the unfolding experience of navigating these virtual environments and of dealing with the loss and re-establishment of a meaningful relationship with alien spaces in VR.

DocuMETA —— A Metaverse Science Fiction Documentary Exhibition
Jiajian Min     

DocuMETA, a metaverse science fiction documentary exhibition, the combination of Documenta and Metaverse. DocuMETA is a comprehensive manifestation of materialization and technology. From “language is the border of thinking” to “using fantasy as a medium to open up the possibilities of thinking”, the multifaceted world of anti-gravity is presented. In addition, through eight scenarios themed “Fractal”, “Wonder”, “City”, “SuperHero”, “Chaos”, “Re-enchantment”, “Fantasy” and “System” respectively, forming compound relations and guiding the audience into a land inaccessible in the real world. This exhibition responds to the imaginary of temporal and spatial homogeneity in Chinese aesthetics with a rhythmic arrangement. The works of science fiction writers and academic discussions, manuscripts and notes, translated visual and multimedia materials, and even artifacts from their working lives will be placed together in the exhibition space, mirroring and expanding each other.

Using Augmented Reality to Show How An Artwork Was Created
Michael Wehar     

Whenever viewing an artwork in a gallery, I often wonder how was this work created and what process was used? Augmented reality is one such tool that can enable an artist to showcase their creation process along with their completed work. Overlaying animations on top of a featured work can allow a spectator to walk around the exhibit exploring the artwork’s creation from different vantage points. In April 2023, we will be opening an art exhibition for the Algorithmically Generated Artwork Project at Swarthmore College. For this exhibition, we will use augmented reality to demonstrate how some of the featured artworks were created. The Algorithmically Generated Artwork Project investigates processes for creating visual designs and artworks. As part of this project, we introduce an open-source framework for creating computer programs that generate artworks.

Extended Digital Twins: Blended Memories
You-Jin Kim     

With help of a complete model of the digital twin, scaled and oriented correctly to the physical world present a unique opportunity to deliver catered experience for that location. We constructed a LiDAR-scanned physical environment with a user interaction AR visualizer to deliver curated experience for users. Our AR outdoor experiment shows how users perceive spatial awareness differently in the presence platform experience: impaired recall of items that were placed in the physical world. Hinting physical world layer could be compromised in AR. Although we are unsure of the full extent to how we perceived spatial awareness through see-through waveguide displays in AR headsets, we discovered that outdoor AR experiences are an effective way to convey abstract ideas, such as the impact on climate change awareness – providing key insights into virtual content creation for real life locations.

Entangled Realities
Avital Meshi      Treyden Chiaravalloti     

Real Life and Virtual Reality usually operate separately, but what happens when the two meet? In a series of performances, we think diffractively about the two realities and observe the patterns of interference that are produced when they collide. “Coffee Break” is a street performance where two performers sit in a public cafe, while being fully immersed in VR. “InVisible” is another street performance in which one performer is immersed in VR while the other performer draws lines inside the virtual field in order to represent an RL path for the VR performer to follow. Lastly, “The Cage” is a durational performance in which performers are immersed in separate virtual spaces, yet these spaces are spatially aligned with one physical space. Having no way of seeing one another, the performers repeatedly crash until they gradually learn how to communicate, create, and bridge between the two realities they inhabit.



Augustus Wendell

Augustus E. Wendell is an Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University. He has been a faculty member there since 2019.

Augustus completed his MFA in Computer Art at The School of Visual Arts and his undergraduate studies at Northeastern University. Augustus has held appointments at Parsons the New School for Design, The New York School of Interior Design, Virginia Tech and the New Jersey Institute of Technology where he was program coordinator for the Digital Design program.

Augustus researches the application of computational processes to design, fine art and historical research. He has a concentration in the application of image and model based workflows to aid in the study of complex geographic and spatial conditions.

Victoria Szabo

Victoria Szabo is a Research Professor of Visual and Media Studies at Duke University, with a secondary appointment in Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies. Her work explores spatial, immersive, and interactive archives and exhibitions for research and creative expression. At Duke she is the Director of Graduate Studies for the PhD in Computational Media, Arts & Cultures, leads the Information Science + Studies program, is a member of the Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab, and a collaborator in the international Visualizing Cities consortium. She is also a co-principal in Psychasthenia Studio, an artist’s games collaborative, and Chair of the Arts Advisory Group for ACM SIGGRAPH. She will serve as Art Papers Chair for SIGGRAPH Asia 2023.

Victoria has an MA and PhD in English from the University of Rochester and a Certificate from the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Research on Women and Gender.