|Futuredays Lab Young Artists' Gulliver Project, "Lost White," 2019 VR Art, Tilt Brush, Volumetric 3D Capture, Mixed Media / Courtesy of Production Company ONN|
By Anna J. Park
While preparing for Asia's first XR exhibition "Futuredays," employing the latest and hottest virtual technologies ― including Volumetric Capture's holographic 3D videos ― Project ONN's four members have explored a new realm of artistic possibilities.
During interviews with The Korea Times, Project ONN's artistic director and composer Kim In-hyun, media artist Shin Joon-sik, choreographers Park Jina and Heo Ji-eun have all stressed, despite their different genres, that new virtual technologies like MR and XR immensely helped them to expand the scopes of their artistic expressions, furthering their freedom and imagination as artists.
|From top left, clockwise, artistic director Kim In-hyun, media artist Shin Joon-sik, choreographers Heo Ji-eun and Park Jina / Courtesy of Production Company ONN|
As for composer Kim In-hyun, gradute of the Manhattan School of Music, said she finally found her own way of creating music pieces that fit an XR-based environment.
"Music is an art genre that runs with time; it has starting and ending bars. However in an XR environment, unlike a typical music performance at a concert hall, visitors get to choose the order in which they approach art works, which mixes up the linear flow of a music score. Thus in XR-based music, it's like writing a piece that's vertically extended, instead of conventional horizontally-developed music scores. Also minimalistic music would be preferable, otherwise it could just sound like noise when randomly put together. I put extra attention into that. While the music pieces contain fundamental elements, such as chords, harmonies and melodies, the music still fits this newly-created space and time," Kim explained.
|The art work "Some days in futuredays" employs U.S.-based Meyer Sound's immersive audio system to create a space with the best 3D sound quality. / Courtesy of Production Company ONN|
In choreography and dance, these virtual and extended reality technologies can widen the scope of the performances' reach to the public as well as viewers' participation.
"I think dance is an art genre that has very clear boundaries; in a performance, it has the finite space of a hall and a limited number of audience members and dancers. I wanted to see more diverse groups of people get an easier approach to this genre in their everyday life. I think what we are doing is helping to expand the space of both dancers and audiences, using the latest technologies like holographic videos. It has such potential to grow in the future," choreographer Heo Ji-eun said.
|Viewers can watch holographic videos of dance movements by choreographers/dancers Park Jina, left, and Heo Ji-eun, right, by wearing a MR headset. / Courtesy of Production Company ONN|
"In an XR choreography, we need to consider every 360 degrees of perspective; viewers can watch dancers from every side, from a bird's eye view to a posterior view. We didn't need to worry about this in a conventional performance, as we have a clear front, which is the audiences' side of a stage. Thus, it was very experimental process that we create dance moves that can be aesthetically valuable from every angle. The directions of the dancers' gazes were also another important matter, as viewers tend to follow the dancers' gaze," Heo added.
|Choreographer and dancer Park Jina's holographic video / Courtesy of Production Company ONN|
"Prior to this exhibition, I also had an experience of collaborating with artificial intelligence (AI) technology. AI-powered programs could learn the patterns of countless numbers of dance movements, encompassing various genres of ballet, traditional Korean dances and contemporary moves, and they come up with their own choreography. While the result was not yet perfect ― many of the movements were impossible for humans to execute due to physical limitations ― I was very much inspired by such previously-unthinkable moves. I think technology and the arts can mutually benefit each other. Artists can also help engineers to develop further functions to realize their artistic ideals," Park said.
Media Shin Joon-sik also shares such a view. Graduate of the Pratt Institute, he started to be inspired by digital technologies that have become ubiquitous since the early 2000s.
"People everywhere were already using smartphones and internet programs all the time; it's just like they are living in a virtual world. One of the inspirations for my earlier art from the virtual world was the concept of teleportation, which allows people to instantly move everywhere in a different space and time. I created a collection in which my avatar visits famous people from the past or travels into the future," Shin said.
|Shin Joon-sik's "Somedays in Futuredays," 2019, XR (eXtended Reality), holography,?Volumetric?3D?Capture,?Tilt?Brush,?CG,?Art?Installation,?Hololense / Courtesy of Production Company ONN|
"Around that time, I came across Google's Tilt Brush program. It is a technology that allows painters to draw in 3D spaces with virtual reality. In a 2D art work, we use paints on canvas; in Tilt Brush, you put paints into an empty space. I fill the space with my designed creations. It feels like sculpture in a way. What is also interesting about this is that viewers can walk into the world of the created artwork. It's like creating an artists' own universe," he continued.
"It allows people to teleport themselves into a created world of artists. Thus technology helps artists to create things that they previously could not. There are now many artists' groups using VR, AR, XR technologies. I feel like we are the warriors on the front line of the merged possibilities of arts and technology," he stressed.