A virtual/physical art installation exploring issues of hybridity, embodiment and collective creativity in the Avatar Age.
Visions of Our Communal Dreams is a new media artwork blending virtual, physical and networked environments that explores issues of hybridity, embodiment and collective creativity made possible through the use of avatars and virtual worlds. The artwork is comprised of two public spaces – one virtual and one physical – that are inherently connected in order to create a series of mixed-reality contexts, situations and experiences.
The artwork's virtual component consists of an imaginary forest landscape constructed using the open source 3D application server OpenSimulator. This synthetic, 'living' metaverse is defined by the creative aspirations of its avatar inhabitants and is intrinsically linked to a changing selection of gallery and public spaces in the real world. Live interactions and exchanges flow between the virtual and physical realms through various site-specific 'portals' ranging from immersive architectural projections and windows to arrangements of small painterly artefacts and kiosks. These gateways are realised through telematic interfaces that allow residents from both discrete locations to gaze upon each other and their surroundings, thus creating uncanny connections and dialogues between the worlds.
Virtual: Transitional Space, OSGrid: Explore the virtual forest landscape located within the open source metaverse OSGrid by following these simple instructions: VOCD_virtual-participation-guide_v1.1.
Physical: 16 March - 27 May 2012, Robots & Avatars exhibition, presented at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool, UK: Visit the physical installations embedded within FACT's galleries and public spaces.
Visions of Our Communal Dreams is not merely a self-contained artistic experience, but rather, is part of a wider conversation and journey that seeks to consider a future vision of work and play made possible through the innovative use of avatars and virtual worlds. To support this endeavour, the project encompasses a programme of interrelated educational activities through which participants learn skills relating to avatars, virtual worlds and collaborative content creation that feed back into both the artwork and its underlying creative processes.
The Visions of Our Communal Dreams v1.0 project supported a series of media-based workshops undertaken in partnership with Weatherhead Media Arts College, Liverpool. Over a two-month period, a group of Year-9 media art students were taught industry standard and transportable skills (such as avatar body and clothing customisation, constructing and texturing 3D builds, and basic scripting and animation) using the open source 3D application server OpenSimulator. With their newly acquired knowledge, they worked alongside the project team in order to feed their own ideas and creativity into the collaborative process of making the virtual forest.
Drew Baker [ OpenSimulator modelling and programming ] . Erik Fleming [ OpenSimulator development and administration ] . David Steele [ network design and server-side programming ]
Chris Miller (FACT) [ production design ] . Emma Puente [ media production ]
Workshop Participants: Anna Kronenburg (FACT) & Rebecca Elliott (Weatherhead) [ project coordination ] . Alex, Banusha, Caprice, Laura, Maddie, Molly & Oliwia [ Weatherhead participants ] . Phil MacDonald [ video documentation ]
Ghislaine Boddington (b>d>s) & Mike Stubbs (FACT) [ curation ] . Geraldine Atger, Leanne Hammacott, Janka Krasznai & Marie Proffit [ b>d>s production ] . Nick Lawrenson & Chris Nolan [ FACT production ] . Andrew Prescott (KCL) [ support ]
Visions of Our Communal Dreams v1.0 is a 2011-12 development commission for the Robots & Avatars project. Commissioned by body>data>space and the National Theatre in association with FACT, Liverpool and the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London. The project is funded by the EU Culture programme.
Virtual: Windows/Mac computer system with Firestorm Viewer virtual worlds browser and stereo audio. A high-specification CPU/GPU, colour display with ≥1024x768 resolution and high-speed Internet connection are recommended.
Physical: Modular virtual/physical installations using: high-specification computer systems capable of real-time high definition 3D rendering; multi/single channel high definition video systems (screen-based and projection); 2.1 audio systems; and HCI devices for user interaction.