Today I began exploring social virtual reality through the Steam application ‘VR Chat’ at Camberwell. To begin, I did the introduction a process that begins with very simple tasks within the virtual space. It goes through actions like walking, navigation and basic interaction with the space and individuals. This makes the often clunky interface a little more easy to understand.
Kristina, the VR specialist at UAL helped guide me through the process and introduced me to VR Chat and how to interact with other social VR users. Together we figured out how to add friends and how to find users you are looking for. This system could be used to find friends or associates for group meetings. The aim of using this technology is to be able to link CCW and other UAL colleges together through a new mode of communication. The idea is that the VR is continually running so that collaborators can continue dialogue at any time from anywhere in the world. For this, it would be an effective mode of holding conversations in any environment at ones disposal. It would be a great platform to show or propose potential sculptural objects or architectural spaces to clients or collaborators.
I personally think at this time there are much more efficient means to communicate between the colleges but, the VR space does add a customisable and immersive experience in communication. I think the process is still a little too longwinded to really engage with on a larger scale, especially when we have faster and more accessible technology on our phones. The other downside is of this technology is the fatigue that comes with it, being immersed in these environments for too long leaves one feeling drained. If the tech can be refined it could be a good alternative of communication.
For the first Tate Planning meeting I designed a large scale planning map that allowed for groups to align themselves together and form what may be the incubators in the final event in March. It was great to bring some of my actual drawing skills into the DMC meeting as it is often such digital based work we are involved with. Bringing in something a bit more traditional was a breath of fresh air and was a really effective way of engaging all the groups. After the meeting this became the point that the groups gathered around to start of conversations on how they may collaborate and combine to make larger projects. This was rewarding to see this illustration be put to such good use. I think the design was very successful in providing a clear floor plan and opportunity to facilitate dialogue between the groups and communities.
On the 13th, I attended the Young Coders Tate Exchange that gave young people and kids the opportunity to learn new digital skills and then lead a series of workshops for anyone of the general public to attend. The workshops were simple and accessible for any age range or audience member. Each workshop worked closely to Raspberry Pie computers and explored a different field ie: Workshop 1: Coding with Lights, Workshop 2: Coding for VR. It was great to see young people so engaged with current forms of technology and to for them to be given the opportunity to develop leadership skills and run classes to people twice their age. This event was great as it was all about open source concepts and the exchange of knowledge and information, giving everyone the tools to create something in the digital space. I learned a little about basic coding of lights, a simple ON & OFF code that allowed me to switch a small LED light on and off.
With the other graduate interns, a meeting was set up to discuss the upcoming CCW Cookhouse Exhibition on April 16th. It was a productive meeting that established the scheduling and organisation of the event. We each gave our area of interest and availability for this event which then dictated who would invigilate, help install and deinstall and who would join in with critical reflections with students. I personally wanted to be involved with the crits as a means to engage with students and be involved in critical discourse about students work across the UAL colleges. I think Amy has done a great job in organising the event which could be a great success in integrating more students together from different universities.
The Digital Maker Collective were invited to the first Uniqlo Tate Late of 2018 which acted as a time to present the prototypes all the Tate Exchange groups had been working on. We packed up the equipment at 10am at Chelsea and delivered it all to Tate Modern at 1:30pm to install through the day. The event opened at 6pm and was flooded with people from 6-10pm. This experience was great working alongside the rest of the collective, showing the strength the group holds when all focussed on the same goal. Each work was received well, some better than others, and left the Tate staff very impressed. Personally, I am proud of the effort the Movement & Technology group put in, with such last minute changes to the work the evening before. We were able to handle the pressure and adapt to last minute technical difficulties and remain calm and focussed as a team. This event was also a great moment of reflection and critique. The work we (M&T group) produced was not very engaging and the public did not really know how to interact with the installation. I feel as if the visual side of the work has to be highly refined as it was bland and uninviting. Whilst being disheartening at times, it was a great to get some feedback from audience members which will allow us to develop the project into something much more appealing for the final Tate Exchange in March. The collective work ethic did not end with the end of the event. After much hassle getting out of the Tate Modern we eventually packed up the taxis and were able to drop off all the equipment and works to the Gatehouse at Chelsea UAL for around 11pm.
The building of networks has been a key consideration to me over the last few months working alongside the Digital Maker Collective. I am constantly aware of the time frame of the internship which gives me a sense of urgency. I feel it necessary to build relationships with students, staff, industry professionals and institutions in a short amount of time that will benefit my professional development in the future. I think building organic business relations in the arts industry is mutually beneficial to both parties as I think they will lead to future collaborations, transactions, work, relations etc. I am constantly asking questions to inspiring people I am meeting to get the most out of conversations. People have valuable information to share, but most people are scared to ask seemingly silly questions. This is a huge shame as often those questions lead to very meaningful responses that can hold great value. I think networking is extremely key in any self motivated business. There is no defined pathway in the arts, like finance etc. We, as artists, have to utilise the resources, contacts and opportunities we are given to the full potential to create a support system or infrastructure that is beneficial for all involved.
On Tuesday 12th December I had the opportunity to visit Bermondsey based company Green Lab. Green Lab is a sustainable food research company that doubles up as ‘a workspace for entrepreneurs and other agricultural mavericks who are designing beautiful solutions to complex food problems. Encouraging creativity, collaboration, experimentation and play, it incubates ideas that make food systems more productive and resilient, and that can put more natural and healthy food on our tables.’
It was an interesting visit to a business that worked as a fluid space, doubling up as more than just a research lab exploring food systems. Whilst there, paying members were using the space to develop ideas for business start ups. As an environment it was great, with many different tests occurring throughout the space. This visit was a good opportunity for me to observe and listen a lot more in meetings. The main focus of the discussion was how Green Lab may collaborate or support the Art & Science group. This is a group that I am not currently working alongside, which I hope to change in 2018. I inputted where I could to the discussion but it was mostly outside of my knowledge and expertise. This was a relatively informative trip that may lead to future collaborative work with Green Lab.
I organised with Katherine Dwyer to help with the events management of the CCD Digital Conference. This involved briefly setting up the space and welcoming visitors, giving them passes and directing them to the conference space. It was disappointing to not explore more areas that would help develop my events management skills as this is what was offered to myself and Josh. Because of this, I have arranged with Katherine to have a meeting in the lead up to an event I am running externally to UAL in January to develop my knowledge outside of this event. This conference was a great insight into where different universities across the UK are adapting to the digital world we are living in. It was surprising to see the difficulties universities are challenged with and how they are disconnected to the relatively simple solutions. It became even more clear that what Chris Follows and the Digital Maker Collective are constructing are very progressive and forward thinking. I think the model of education we are building within the Maker Spaces will become more prevalent in education in the future. The conference was a great place to expand my network in the educational field and I was able to meet some very interesting people, some of which I will continue a dialogue with in the future.
The Movement & Technology group had its second meeting which I organised. With each meeting we have decided to rotate the chairperson of the meeting, creating a balanced and equal responsibility with core members. Rosie-Munor-Kerr was appointed this position for this meeting and she was able to channel the groups ideas very well into a more concise mood board. I was able to support Rosie in this meeting and direct the focus when it strayed off centre. It was rewarding to let the responsibility of the meeting fall onto others and allow them to develop there own professional chairperson skills.
The group has made some interesting developments that will explore audience as performer in a space or environment that we as a collective will construct. It is a great group of individuals that all have amazing expertise to contribute.
I organised a Meet up for the upcoming Tate Exchange in 2018 around the theme of Movement & Technology. As a group we came to the conclusion our broad question would be:
How does an environment affect our movement within a space?
After taking notes and posing questions throughout, I condensed the meeting to:
Creating a sectioned off ‘safe’ space that allows for movement. This is a participatory work that engages with the Tate audience, turning members of public into performers through the environment we construct: both digital and analogue. We can track basic gestures, movement, dance moves through Motion sensors and develop a digital output. This could be projected or displayed some way. This could remain displayed and continue to grow, expand, develop throughout the week. Sound could also become integral, reactionary to the movement made by performers.
Leading this meeting was a great experience in managing a large group of individuals with strong ideas. This meeting aided in the development of my public speaking skills and trying to get the best from everyone, allowing everyone to have there ideas listened to. From this meeting it became apparent who will most likely become integral to the team.