Alberta art exhibit uses virtual reality to explore who we are as digital beings

Why are folks inquisitive about virtual reality and what can it inform us about who we are and what we may turn out to be in a digital world?

“As an artist, it’s a query I’ve been asking for many years,” stated artist and media arts professor Marilene Oliver. “Now with virtual reality, when we actually are fully immersed within the digital, I needed to ask that query.”

As well as to her instructing work, Oliver is the co-curator of an art exhibit on the College of Alberta’s Advantageous Arts Constructing gallery known as Know Thyself As a Virtual Reality.

“It’s based mostly on a Greek maxim: Nosce te Ipsum, which was used within the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. In that point, it was: ‘To know your house inside a social hierarchy.’

“Later you discover it in anatomical engravings, the place it’s: ‘To know thyself as a divine work of God.’ And now, the extra we’re turning into digital, the extra we’re creating these large information units of every part we do, we now want to know ourselves, I consider, as digital objects and topics,” Oliver defined. “That is what we are known as to do now to perceive ourselves.”

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There are seven artworks that use virtual reality to explore totally different points of information and the digital points of human life. The works introduced collectively many various disciplines together with fantastic art, radiology, engineering, music, digital humanities and computing science.

Oliver explains one focus of the exhibit as: “Can we discover a means to visually talk what we’re turning into as digital beings?”

That’s the place the virtual reality is available in. Donning a headset and hand controls, an individual is immersed in information — the knowledge, the way it appears, sounds and feels — and might work together with it.

“In one of many tasks that I used to be a part of, known as My Information Physique, we strive to create a physique which you’ll be able to take aside and dissect,” Oliver defined.

“It has many various information our bodies in it. It has my MRI scan, all my social media information, my Google information, banking information, my information cookies and it’s put it in sort of this vessel that you could then take aside in an try to try to see it, to try to maintain it, as a result of how else can we see all this information that we’re producing?”

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Know Thyself artworks

The place are You? 

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“aAron Munson has made a piece known as The place Are You? and that makes us take into consideration how social media is altering the best way our mind works and the place we place our consideration,” Oliver stated.

Munson in contrast fMRI scans of their mind: impartial, after meditating and after utilizing social media. Individuals can use the VR headset to expertise the three totally different mind scans.

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a vessel, a physique, a house

“Chelsey Campbell has made a bit that could be very peaceable and restful,” Oliver stated. “It makes us take into consideration how a lot work we continuously really feel we want to be doing on a regular basis. She stands towards that and has created a really quiet area the place you must simply lay and revel in the fantastic thing about the room.”

Within the VR expertise, the consumer is transported to a home bed room area.

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Ancestry & Me

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“We’ve got one other piece by Lisa Mayes, which really isn’t with an MRI scan, however along with her DNA information,” Oliver stated.

“She despatched off a pattern to Ancestry and came upon about her household historical past. She talks about how the scientific information recording someway legitimized all of the conversations that had been had in her household about her ancestral roots, which come from Eire, from France, Scotland and Ghana.”

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The Nearest Window

“We’ve got one other artist who is presenting our bodies that aren’t usually current in digital works, which are MTurk employees,” Oliver stated.

Artist Dana Dal Bo appears at Mechanical Turk (MTurk) crowdsourcing.

“In case you don’t know, Amazon has a service which permits you to make use of, for a little or no quantity, this invisible labour,” Oliver defined. “Individuals do surveys, they do a number of AI processing … labelling information units.”

The artist requested MTurk’s nameless employees to take an image of what they may see out of their nearest window and ship it to her.

A mirror with no reflection

“We’ve got the artist Nicholas Hertz, who’s made a piece which is absolutely concerning the expertise of being scanned and the sense of feeling that information is taken from you after which not acknowledged, probably not recognizing the outcomes of these information,” Oliver stated.

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Utilizing VR, viewers members can expertise MR scans, the sounds and emotions they produce and the photographs they create.

Hertz additionally questions simply how “non-invasive” this process is and what it’s like to see your self mirrored on this means.

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“We tried to create an exhibition which has many various views,” Oliver stated. “Perhaps it makes folks suppose: ‘OK, what would I do? How would I deal with my information if I had been making a VR paintings?”

She hopes the art makes folks suppose personally and relationally.

“I hope firstly that they may take into consideration all of the our bodies of information they’ve and the way accountable they are for it and in addition how they work together with others.”

Know Thyself as a Virtual Reality

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FAB Gallery, College of Alberta

8807 112 Road NW

Feb. 21 – March 18, 2023

Tuesday – Friday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Saturday: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.


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