March 2021

Thinking about the way I work in the physical world, I was comprehending making a new desk to allow me to work better within my digital environments. Considering form, I wanted to visualise how the desk might sit within the room quickly. I decided to use the same Virtual Reality environment I had been filling with cubes within Unreal Engine. Walking around within my own room, in this VR environment where the space is overlaid with a fake reality is more disorientating that I expected. The way the space overlaps with reality almost exactly and creates a space which the user can engage with in a tactile manner was the most shocking part. Being able to feel the original desk I had, and put into perspective where the new one would be was really useful as spatially understanding human being.

While we can draw things on computer software or by hand, quickly being able to step into that space and feel it within an environment you are much more accustomed to allows further engagement. It also got me thinking about the further dimensions which could be explored through virtual reality. Within VR normally, the player can move around with their legs and turn their head to see different angles, however they also have a joystick which allows them to move further within the environment if physical obstacles are in the way. What if the physical and digital worlds aligned perfectly, then the joysticks usage would be completely useless. Could we then assign either physical movement or the joystick a new function which could potentially further expand or enrich the space beyond the usual dimensions we can percieve?

I want to continue further within the original space I was creating with this in the forefront of my mind. Looking at how I can add minute engagement practices to my environment within VR, which otherwise wouldn’t be able to be created in physical space due to our own perception of senses.

Progressing further with attempting to make the cubes within my VR environment interchangeable both visually in terms of colour, but also within the properties that are associated with them, I came into some issues. The image above details an attempt to use node editing in order to allow a simple flip flop switch to be integrated into the cubes to begin with, just to enable me to switch between two types of the cube. This process was unsuccessful and therefore I have been thinking about pairing down and simplifying the environment to create these interactions, before I attempt to implement them into the fully fledged version.

However during the process of attempting to create this, I ended up breaking the cubes which had no physics attached to them at all outside of the players hands. While trying to correct this, I managed to heavily impede the linear and rotational resistance of these cubes, and therefore make them appear to react in a time scale much slower than the other cubes. The above video demonstrates this, and potentially this alone as a process could be interesting enough, without the implementation of complex switching mechanics, if that proves too hard to implement.

Whilst trying to implement some further functionality into the model, I realised there had been become quite a lot of clutter and convoluted progress. I decided to begin again with a more simplistic VR example someone had created in order to better understand how to use the node editor to create object interactions.

This worked really well, and having made the play space much less aesthetically cluttered, I managed to convert the usage of a gun trigger, and learning about the node functions from this, massively simplified the object interactions to allow a flipflop between two types of cube.

I think that to improve the interactions with this space I want to remove the body of the player interacting with the cubes on the floor, which would also allow the player to further intersect and reach across the table. I also feel the need to attempt to allow other types of cube to be added to this world and be able to cycle between more than just an on off like system of two cubes.

Reading through Ways of Seeing, a non linear style paper, both the way in which we can traverse through it, alongside the graphic nature of the pages made it much more dynamic feeling than a standard paper. I really enjoy the expressive and overlaid use of diagrams shown especially within this segment. It fits very well with the non linear storytelling and game/experimental digital space design I am currently experimenting with.

Also reading through Sensory Alignment in Immersive Entertainment, a lot of the regard to misalignment in a regard to sensorial perception, along with the enabling of ‘Infinite New Realities’ proves tangible explanation for what I am trying to evoke through my cubes experiment.

Thinking about ways in which we could use a system of navigating through cubes to watch non linear content, and experience it is something which could be incredibly provocative in regards to a current project that the main Design Research Works fellowship is looking at. By being able to explore almost as a four dimensional toddler, while listening to people in the field of Design Research regard for their own practice would be very sensorial in nature.

Working more on my cube based VR experimental environment, I wanted to focus on the nodes, and how I can advance these so that multiple cube types can come from one origin. cube. This was my plan with the previous environment, but having explored more, the types of node, and having researched how to implement them together in sequence, I managed to get this function working.

Above you can see the simple flip flop version of this node, where only 2 types of cube could be switched between. Below is a series of 7 types of cubes which can be interchanged with one another. Each has a different colour to make the relationships they have with the environment around them clearer. I may add more cubes, but already, some of the cubes have become quite gimmicky in the way they interact with the world they’re in, which is something I wouldn’t want to overdo.

The next feature I want to implement in order to reach the envisioned position is to change the way the player collides with the environment so that you feel when you are playing the experience that you aren’t worried about moving the cubes by moving through them, and only your hands will have affect upon the digital world. Through this process, the connectivity I feel with the objects has become better, alongside the level of immersion I have with interacting with this digital space. Making the space easy to move within for people who aren’t attuned to digital spaces and controls is something I need to refine. Some of the cubes cause glitches which throw you around in the space as you walk over them. This could lead to heavy nausea in some people, so this is why the players physical interactions with the cubes needs to be minimised to when they are holding them in their hands only.

While creating this virtual reality space, alongside working with UCL at one of their conferences, I was asked about doing some work to unravel the creation process behind the online exhibition they were attempting to showcase through Mozilla hubs. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to devise something new, whilst also optimising a layout and space so that it can function properly within the web system and run well on most machines. Bellow is the idea I came up with which could create an interesting space of alterity which not only is visually evocative, but questions the usage of AI, and the perspective the machines themselves may have on the outputs they generate. The positioning of the piece is as follows:

This virtual space presents an ongoing conversation and collaboration between artists Zach Mason and Joseph Clark both who are interested in the topics of data collection, visualisation and the development of artificial intelligence.

In an empty bedroom, inspired by the setting that many conversations between us have taken place, we as humans will act as AI pretending to be Humans. 3D models, text and sound pieces that will be systematically produced in response to one another without knowledge of the context. Neither of us take the same view on the benefits, dangers and possible governance of AI but through this ongoing collaboration we will hopefully bring about an understanding of the perspective of AIs, fumbling in an attempt to generate material in response to their confusing surroundings.

The bedroom will gradually become cluttered with objects and images – overlapping, merging and colliding with each other. Those who access the space may view each object as a conversation, or statement, in itself or step back and view the bedroom as a larger dialogue.

This is an initial statement about the work, alongside a video of what the space will look like before the works are included. As the piece is not only about AI but about communication methods through the pandemic in a sense, a bedroom felt like an appropriate space for the scene to manifest. As the objects get added in a reactive manner by each of us, the lack of colour will contrast heavily and allow the pieces added to the space to really stand out to the viewers.

Bellow are the beginning objects within the room, as well as text attempting to represent the AI, rationalising the placement of the objects. The intent of this work is to question the line between AI and human thought, what makes them lesser, how they may be confused and how they might go about the design of a room, and the understanding of ‘others’ within their space.

Blue Crocodile Skull – I have been trained as a machine to understand animals. This space in unknown to me, I see an image with connected lines and create a crocodile skull with reactive elements to this. Lines are drawn on the skull connecting things. Task completed within 24 hours of 7 day limit, 312kb of 5mb limit.

Horse Head – I have been trained as a machine to understand animals. This space in rather unknown to me, I see an image with connected lines and unknown text, I create a horse skull in reaction to this. Lines are drawn on the skull like the image with connected lines. Task completed within 16 hours of 7 day limit, 1056kb of 5mb limit.

Human Figures – I have been trained as a machine to understand animals and I am learning about connecting lines. This space is confusing to me. I see new images on 3D objects of man made structures. objects are human made, I create human figures to resemble this. Textures undefined. Task completed within 9 hours of 7 day limit, 983kb of 5mb limit.

Primitive Dynamics – I have been trained as a machine to understand animals and I am learning about other objects. This space contains objects. I see black and white images of text and perspective primitives. Origin unknown, primitive objects created, texture aerodynamics estimation failed. Task completed within 18 hours of 7 day limit, 1732b of 5mb limit.