Digital X Immersive Art
Sam Drew | Head of Experiential & IT
What a crazy time to be living right now. The power of physical human contact has been brought to its knees. People who once got their kicks from experimenting with LED and 3D printing for gamified attractions are now confined to their garage with a box of cables and microcontroller boards, wondering “what we can create next?” Or is that just me? My name is Sammy Drew and this is not your standard company insight. I head up Experiential and IT at 2Heads Global Design, conceptualising and actualising creative encounters that leave our client’s customers saturated in unforgettable experiences.
Normally working away in the figurative ‘engine room’, turning an array of tech into a piece of interactive event hardware, I wanted to take some time to talk to you about the latest developments in immersive art that I feel all event professionals should be aware of.
Immersive art doesn’t just inspire me to get out of bed each day; it excites me to my very core. The creation of an attraction that completely submerges the customer’s sense is such a powerful and intriguing way of delivering a company ethos and promoting their products, it was easy to see its place in the events world. But then came the lockdown and as we adapt to this brave new world, I’ve had the freedom to appreciate some of the amazingly creative designs people are coming up with and have chosen five top experiences I think you’ll enjoy. From Mixed Reality, Kinetic, Light to Projected and Sound, I’ve chosen an interesting project to open your horizons. Let’s do this!
Unreal Garden | Onedome, San Francisco
First up is a jaw-dropping mixed reality experience; mixed reality in that it combines physical objects with incredible digital overlays, viewed through (in this case) a pair of Microsoft HoloLens Glasses. What they have achieved with Unreal Garden is a chimerical, Avatar-like world, where all manner of fauna interacts with your very presence. I’m personally excited by mixed reality as, with new developments in hardware and software, it’s becoming more and more prominent within the realms of interactive design. Certainly, at 2Heads, we are becoming increasingly involved in developing design software to support Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality experiences.
Kinetic | Pool, by Brixels
This next piece is so unbelievably cool that I literally shivered when I saw it. The concept is remarkably simple – take some motors, strap mirrors to them, place a device to map moving objects above it, wire the whole load up to a computer in an array and get some software to interpret it all. Take a moment to appreciate the magical process Brixels have gone through, creating a beautiful artistic experience, perfectly accomplished. Bravo.
Lux Partum | Optikalusion
Honestly, this is quite simply the coolest way to deal with a global pandemic. The brainchild of Chris Moylan, Lux Partum is an interactive lighting experience that you can enjoy in your home RIGHT NOW. When faced with the shared feeling of doom amidst the Covid crisis, Chris Moylan and his team took over Motorwerk in Berlin, installed a huge array of movable lighting and released a link to an online platform that enables you to take over the whole lot. Every part of this is nothing short of joyous, bringing an immersive experience into your home for the princely sum of ‘on the house’. Fantastisch!
Whirlpool | teamLab
At 2Heads we’ve created our fair share of incredible projection mapping experiences, but I would like to take a moment to admire the efforts of teamLab, an international collective of… well… awesomeness. The simplicity of this art installation, to my mind, is the very sum of its breath-taking qualities. The piece immerses you in a moony, hypnotic environment that subtly interacts as you wander around. At this juncture, I’m firing up TouchDesigner and recreating something at home. If you’re really good, I’ll make a video on it and release it in the coming weeks.
And we’ve come to the final video, which has a short story behind it. A few days ago, I was in a meeting with my illustrious team leader, Digital and Content Director, Nick Rosier, and the fountain of knowledge that is Paul Godwin, our Executive Director. We were discussing an 3D Interactive experience that we are creating to incorporate a manner of cool functions. Paul suggested harnessing the power of spatial sound to its fullest capabilities and Nick recalled a video he’d seen in 2007 demonstrating the effective use of binaural microphones (think of a box with microphones inside and with rubber ears either side, mimicking human ears). I’d never heard it before, but instantly knew I was going to recommend it to all of you stuck at home, with your hair growing longer and longer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUDTlvagjJA Grab some headphones, close your eyes and visualise getting all that hair chopped off, in an excellent example of spatial sound.
I hope this insight into immersive art has been a timely break for you all. For myself, even though I may be constrained to the limits of my garage, I am diving straight into designing using the work of my peers as inspiration. Until next time, stay safe, keep that chin up and soon we’ll be back out there showing the world what we can do.