.4. The Visual – The 360° Immersive Body

VR-visualizations of heritage and bodies in general.
How to bring together the main issues – body, viewer, experience – into a VR-medium?
Visualization of the body experience.

 

” Artists have struggled to generate a space that will provide the viewers or ‘readers’ of interactive work with the complete illusion of being immersed within an interactive story. 360° screens appear to be the next step for the maximization of realism which artists tried to present in prehistoric caves, fresco rooms and painted panoramas”

[1]

Today’s middle-class immersive visuals are 360-panorama-photos and a few 360-videos you can reach via Facebook and YouTube.             
People’s approach to these and other immersive spaces is mostly through games and amusement or short trailers or an unusual experience. But VR-visuals already found their way into entertainment, education, medicine and military usage as well as architecture and other 3D-prototyping branches in engineering.[2] And it is used in the reconstruction of cultural heritage!

Museums and Heritage:
To not lose the grab onto the world’s heritage of historic places, museums and the 3D-objects in it, a lot of museums and other cultural institutions use 360-visualisations to display teasers or more extensive “applications” on the web. But in many cases, they can only function as a “teaser” for the actual place, for example because you only have a photograph on your flat screen and can’t approach the smaller exhibits on the wall. An example are the interactive panorama tours through the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections)[3]. A nice feature here is that you can click somewhere to get further information and to proceed to another room. At another extreme, you find fully animated, high realistic, interactive applications for museum enthusiasts, you can watch with VR-glasses. “The VR Museum of Fine Art”[4] is one of those, providing a level of atmospheric immersion that makes you wonder again, why there are no other people with you.

[5] [6]

 

There are museum trailers, but mostly trailers of certain exhibits, digitalised and brought to motion by 3D- or VR-animations. The shown example, the “Art Plunge: Step Inside Classic Paintings With VR”[7], is highly informative and mostly detached from a main physical frame. This makes it more of a documentation. The next example, the VR-elaboration of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting “The Fall of the Rebel Angels”[8] is more atmospheric. It plays with the border between a scientific art analysis and the space that only can be filled with additional material that is not depicted in the actual painting.

[9]  [10]

With the 360°-video “Dreams of Dalí” [11] the Salvador Dali Museum provides an elevated artwork experience that fills all immersive visual and auditory gaps. Here a distinct, surrealistic atmosphere is elaborated with the use of certain colours, space and object arrangements, and sound. You are moving into a picture and can see something in any direction, because additional details and elements are added. And with “Why Is It So Quiet here?” [12] the artist Jan Rothuizen translates a whole museum’s atmosphere into a short movie. This example is not executed as an actual VR-experience, but it has a lot of its design features.

[13]  [14]

 

The Body:            
Regarding body visualisations, we are living in a highly technical world with radical developments in science and rapid scientific changes. VR techniques are already fixed components of medical education and surgical procedures. For example, the YOU VR[15] and The Body VR[16] are dealing with the implementation of 360-depictions in diagnoses, for the better comprehension of patients, far away from all Latin technical terms. A next step will surely be to make this a common tool and later also implement real-time-body-data of the patients. And as an advancement of haemograms, there may be private mobile applications that show your body information and chemical data designed in real time. There already are good animations and VR-films of imagery in entertainment and popular science – for example the Body VR project provides an interactive journey into a cell. And on the other side there are absolute bodies macroscopied to the real world, in full museum installations like the CORPUS exhibition[17].

[18]  [19]

But I can’t see the cultural “heritage” component being adequately carved out yet. The main approach is a mixture of highly realistic but sci-fi-like depictions of one’s interior. In my opinion as a social oriented illustrator and animator, a more “feeling at home” and “perceiving cultural heritage” in immersive media would bring a more contemporary human value to the world of body interior visualisations and, therefore, to the always current relationship between body and mind.

Therefore, I want to build an immersive museum, using the relationship/connection between the space “museum” and a 360°-visualisation as well as the combination of VR as medium for heritage and VR as a medium for education/entertainment.

The creative liberties, with which the “Dreams of Dalí” animation creates a comfortable and aesthetic experience, will be combined with the physical frame of a museum-panorama-tour, like the Dresden State Art Collections provide. Together this may achieve a satisfying contemporary level of immersion within a positive visual experience.

But to finally bring together the three main issues “Body/Heart”, “House/Museum” and “Immersive experience/360-degree-visualization”, I must translate it into the same language.

 

[1] Oliver Grau, Virtual Art. From Illusion to Immersion, trans. Gloria Custance (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2003, PDF), 5-6

[2] Lucio Tommaso de Paolis, “Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications.” (paper presented, Department of Engineering for Innovation, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy, 2017, PDF), slide 36-45. Retrieved from
http://avrlab.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/lez-1-introduction.pdf

[3] Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Art from Romanticism to the Present. Explore the Galerie Neue Meister. 2017. Retrieved from http://www.skd.museum/en/explore/panoramic-tour/

[4] VirtualWorld, The VR Museum of Fine Art para HTC Vive, Filmed 2016, Youtube video. Posted August 21, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WAC38aZ-hk

[5] SKD. Galerie Neue Meister. 2017

[6] VirtualWorld, The VR Museum, 2016, 00:17

[7] Sputnik. Art Plunge: Step Inside Classic Paintings With VR. Filmed 2016, Youtube video. Posted December 16, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oWyAPpBfss

[8] Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium Brussels, Bruegel: a fall with the Rebel Angels [Virtual Reality], Filmed 2016, Youtube video. Posted March 14, 2016. Retrieved from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXR9EEmb-JU

[9] Sputnik. Art Plunge, 2016, 00:43

[10] Royal Museums, Bruegel, 2016, 02:50

[11] Salvador Dali Museum, Inc. Dreams of Dali: Virtual Reality Experience. January, 2016. Retrieved from http://thedali.org/exhibit/dreams-dali-virtual-reality-experience-option-2/

[12] Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Jan Rothuizen: Why is it so quiet here? Filmed 2012, Youtube video. Posted October 16, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXav9qqE78w

[13] Dali Museum, Dreams of Dali, 2016

[14] Museum BVB, Jan Rothuizen, 2012, 01:57

[15] Sharecare (YOU VR), Sharecare website, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.sharecare.com/

[16] The Body VR, The Body VR website, 2017. Retrieved from http://thebodyvr.com/

[17] CORPUS experience, CORPUS experience website, 2016. Retrieved from https://corpusexperience.nl/#!/international-english

[18] HTC VIVE. This is Real – YOU VR. Filmed 2016, Youtube video, 02:42. Posted October 3, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDhioityjH8

[19] The Body VR, The Body VR: Journey Inside a Cell – HTC Vive Trailer, Filmed 2016, Youtube video, 00:05. Posted September 9, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKbwmTG8chQ