John Bowers from Goldsmiths came to give us what was more or less a presentation of his previous work on Thursday, some really interesting stuff, quite relevant to what a lot of us are thinking about at the moment.
He kicked off by talking about the interactive virtual reality work he was involved with in the 90’s, bringing the real world into navigable virtual worlds to model and affect behaviors and spaces. He gave examples of how virtual reality ideas were taken up by the media in TV, fashion and computer gaming; some more successfully than others.
An example of trying and failing to incorporate computers in the fashion industry was virtual garment making, (building a garment virtually would take longer than to create a real mock up, and would not be able to answer the questions it was made for eg. Is it comfortable? How do you feel to wearing it?) Making the salient point that you need to establish whether the technology is justified, not use it simply because you can.
He said he’d noticed that more recently thinking had reversed somewhat from the 90’s desire to bring the real world into a virtual one; the trend is now people thinking about how it is possible to mix the virtual world with the real one. To superimpose them in creative and meaningful ways for entertainment and education.
I’m not completely convinced that virtual reality has had it’s day, what with the success of Habo Hotel (people living virtual lives on the internet) and online gaming, but I agree that a lot of interesting current work is finding ways of creatively integrating technology with our everyday lives, enabling anybody (not just nerds!) to use it.
Some artists projects mentioned or talked about at the lecture… Blast Theory’s Desert Rain & Uncle Roy all around you, Nottingham Castle, Zgodlocator, Masaki Fujihata. I don’t know who’s website this is… http://www.mrl.nott.ac.uk/~sdb/videos/ but it has a neat little description of all the projects John was talking about with some videos.
Some interesting points on Collaboration… Different parties usually have different goals within the same project. We should establish ‘boundary objects’ – elements that everyone in the collaboration can agree are important. In my case I suppose that would be tango.