VR Fest. # Jump into the Light

Interactive Cinema, Uncategorized

On Saturday, I started my first VR trip in the Big Apple. After all the hard work on sending out the friend requests, establishing an Interactive Cinephilia group on Facebook, and calling for a hang out in the lower-east side, I feel it worthwhile to meet several friends at #Jump into the Light, including Matthew, Yifan and some NYU alumni.



small building but fascinating (and hot!)



Due to the malfunctioning train on the weekends, I sadly missed the workshop on how to make easy VR projects. I decided to explore the stands and get the most of this hot and magic space.

Attraction 1: Live 3D VR Camera 


I put on the gadget and saw myself from above. It was an “out-of-body” experience, like the one I had in my dream. I waved my hand and there was no latency. With a click by the presenter, my vision transits between different locations of the VR Fest, the workshop, the stand and so on, thanks to the little cameras hanging on the ceiling.IMG_6048.JPG

According to SUOMETRY’s website,  it is a “computer vision technology company focused on developing ultra-fast and high-quality live action VR capture”. The following is how it works.

← the camera


I asked the application of this 360° immersive technology. The presenter told me that people can stream live concert and share with their friends who live far away. Or the doctors can give remote instructions to the construction team, what they want their hospital to look like, with the first-hand experience offered by the technique.

Such 360° immersive technology can be a huge hit in the travel market.



presentation on travel and VR

One presenter depicted the future work of a travel agent, who shows the different spots to the potential customers for more informed selection. With advanced haptic technology, people can feel the sand for themselves and see whether they are excited to go. A big market is blooming for VR, but the emphasis on marketability also indicates the fiscal anxiety of developers.


#360° immersive

Attraction 2: Doodle Ematic 


the Rule of Doodlematic

This is my favorite! Easy and magical. You can draw your game and take a picture. The software will automatically codify the drawings, and turn the still image to a playable game. Green stands for a player, Black for solid ground, Red for hazard, Purple for things that drop, Blue for the goal.

Here is my work. →


My game


If you can tell from the embarrassing drawing, there are two players (someone with a piglet), climbing up the hill to get the trophy filled with fodder. They have to jump over the red chef, the hazard of my game. Unfortunately, when I was playing it with a single hand (another hand was holding the camera), the piglet failed to pass the chief.

It is hard to make a winnable game! An elementary art teacher sitting next to me designed a sophisticated adventure of beating-dragon-and-save-the-princess, however, the channel was too small for the player to pass. Luckily the software has an option to “shrink” the icons, and even add rotation to the images.

By encouraging learning from the practice, the game displays its potential in education. In another type of game it offers, “touch to win”, a math teacher can encourage students to design 2+7=? quizzes for each other. An art teacher can inspire students to design a game based on a certain story, and level it up by letting students refine the game in photoshop.

Doodlematic renders codifying accessible to everyone, making it an easy tool for creative work of all ages. It breaks the wall between the paper and the screen, the material and the digital, the insider and the amateur. Fascinating!

#Education, Entertainment

IMG_6064.JPGAttraction 3: Small Wonders

Visitors in the festival recommend me to experience the delicate art in a nutshell. In this collaborative project between media lab, school, and artists, the intricate carvings are scanned through micro-CT (the same technology for scanning cancer), reproduced and dissected for appreciation and research.

With my “helmet” on, I could see the whole structure of the art piece and walk past several layers to focus on one figure. When I pointed the controller at the figure, a label floated beside the figure, saying it was a man in the hell. It is said that some hidden figures are seen by people for the first time.

I could also hear the introduction of the work from my headphone, accompanied with a religious chant, transporting myself to a tranquil museum setting.

The only unsatisfactory aspect is the visual texture. The model does not look wood, but cement covered with a thin layer of snow, glowing in red. The presenter explains that wood would seem even worse in this case, and the present material aims to show the contour of each carving. ↓



a snapshot of Small Wonders


#Museum, micro-CT

My Favorite: Les Trois Graces (Jean Francois Malouin, Canada)

It was such a creepy experience! In this art installation, I could move the arms and head of three nudes. When I moved one limb, other parts of that body flowed with it, gravitated to the force. If the limb touched other bodies, those passively responded to the force like an exhausted professional model, who let you manipulate and act according to your wish albeit in a slow manner. The nudes had a blank look. Their mouths opened a little sometimes when I dragged their arms to change the body positions.

Occasionally, I lost one hand in the virtual world, only to find it seized by a nude. I had to bring it back with my other hand. However, it was not a technical glitch. I finally lost both of my hands. As I looked back, I seemed to see an ironical face and a sense of anger in their blank look, their unstable body flowing towards me. I do not know if I project my own fear and guilt on their faces, or the artist changed their facial expression in a subtle way.

a Vimeo video from the artist

I felt relieved when the assistants helped me remove the headset and reorient myself in the real world. I could not forget the passive aggression on their faces and my sense of helplessness when I was exposed to the inescapable virtual world without a hand to manipulate or at least defend myself; it was an immersive nightmare. Maybe some ethical issue is involved, but I appreciate the controversial nature of art.

In retrospect, Les Trois Grâces became my favorite piece. I could not have reflected deeply on the power relationship between the viewer and the subject, if I did not have the embedded experience. The installation subverts the active and the passive and gives us an opportunity to examine our desire and fear.



The label


The label of Les Trois Graces also highlighted the issue of boundaries, how the boundaries between the self and other could collapse. The three nude women influence the shape of each other, and we, the manipulators are deprived of our virtual hands by the women in the virtual world. Even though we still have our physical hands, the terror of being out of control is the same. In this sense, the virtual evades the real.

The artist of Les Trois Graces makes good use of the specific media of VR. JF Maloulin transforms the classical 2-D painting of the static, harmless beauties into the creepy 3-D art installation of movable, threatening modern nudes. Their deliberate passiveness and the innocent seizure of my hands make it a thought-provoking piece on the image of nude women. Manipulated as the beautiful women are, they can turn alive whenever you look into their blank eyes and scare ourselves with our own psychological projections.


The classic: Raphaël’s Les Trois Grâces. →

#Art installation, women, body


Sept. 18th 2017


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s