The seemingly different paths of science and film eventually collide to form the art of virtual realities. On May 7, 2016, ArtPower’s Filmatic Festival displayed this collision through a convention full of performances, discussions, interactive exhibits and lab demos. Located at the Qualcomm Institute in Warren College, this festival was spread throughout a variety of different rooms, each intended to further explore the diverse worlds of virtual reality.
One of the videos premiered at this festival is entitled Solarium, which takes high-definition images of the sun and enhances them to create a video focused on the intricacies of movement in space. The images were captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is a NASA spacecraft meant to, according to their mission statement, “help us understand the sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.” Projected amongst three large screens in a room full of complete darkness, Solarium provided an environment of both admiration and reflection.
Lined up against the walls of the Qualcomm Institute were booths with interactive exhibits in which participants wear virtual reality headsets to watch different films, transporting them to a different world. In the “Stonemilker” 360 degrees music video, you are serenaded by the Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk as she dances her way around you. Your vision in this virtual reality is adjusted so that one step forward in the real world entails a step forward in the “virtual world.”
“Stonemilker” toys with the idea of music as a means of transportation, as she sings of heartbreak and the lack of communication in a fragile relationship. With vivid lyrics depicting her frustration (“All that matters is, who is open chested? / And who has coagulated? / Who can share? / And who has shut down the chances?”), Björk takes you to a world that is heart wrenching yet strangely eerie.
Some other exhibits of virtual realities included Margaret Dolinsky’s Figuratively Speaking and Ben Vance’s Irrational Exuberance. The initial being a fictitious world inhabited by characters with bulging faces, Figuratively Speaking invites its visitors to reflect on the meaning of exploration and adventure. Irrational Exuberance displayed the underestimated events of life in space with a compilation of interstellar images and extensive star fields. It is similar to Solarium in that it transported you to space and questioned the physics of space phenomena.
Though some of the performances and exhibitions do not quite fall under the topic of virtual realities, they do touch upon the idea of other worlds, whether it is past, present or future. ArtPower’s space-themed Filmatic Festival explored the rising popularity of virtual realities through different art forms to convey the importance of history, contemplation and exploration.
For more information on the hosts of this event, ArtPower at UCSD, visit http://artpower.ucsd.edu/.