I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation by visiting artist Weidi Zhang. Astro
(2021), the 360 spherical projection at the planetarium, was such a logical extension of the format of 360 stereoscopic VR, but I had never made that leap in my mind. In my explorations of photogrammetry, I have been striving for uncanny photorealism, and have been slightly disappointed when my consumer-grade experiments have fallen short. What I really appreciated about Zhang’s work is that she was not concerned at all with the fidelity of the initial scan. She was primarily concerned with the plotting of usable data within a point cloud, in the potential
of the scan. The scan itself is not the end result, but rather a raw material to be digitally molded, abstracted, and glitched.
Daniel Steegman,Phantom (Kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name)
The point clouds and harsh monochrome of Zhang’s work made me think back to one of my first real aesthetic experiences of VR, Daniel Steegman’s Phantom (Kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name)
(2015), part of the New Museum Triennial: Surround Audience
. I had seen a few VR pieces at that point, but they were all kind of gimmicky and heavily focused on the medium itself, rather than a transcendental aesthetic experience. Phantom was one of the first pieces that really made me feel something through VR. I had to wait in line for a while, watching multiple people stumble around the exhibition space with the Oculus Rift headset on. The entire time in line I was self-conscious of how dumb I would look to the rest of the room, but as soon as I put the headset on I was fully immersed in another world. The VR piece was a photogrammetry scan of the lush flora of a Brazilian Rainforest rendered in stark white point cloud dots on a midnight black background. It was incredibly simple, but that simplicity or refinement (like Zhang’s work) gave it a ghostly, transporting quality. I wandered around in VR space for a while examining the diversity of plant life, spatially teleported to a place thousands of miles from where I stood. There was a moment of profound realization when I thought to look down at my body in this virtual space, and had the out of body experience that I had no physical form, and was totally enmeshed in the point cloud of a massive tree trunk.
Our exploration of photogrammetry also made me think of the work of two artists I met at Carnegie Mellon University, Steve Gurysh and Claire Hentschker. Steve Gurysh is one of my studio mates, and he introduced me to the process, toolsets, and potential of photogrammetry. In his project, Parts per trillion
(2016-2019), Gurysh 3D scanned a collection of graffitied rocks on the banks of the Bow River in Calgary, digitally embossed the graffiti, 3D printed the resulting scans, slip cast the prints, and then pit-fired the ceramics ceremonially along the banks of the Bow River. The linked video elegantly documents the process (https://vimeo.com/382237212
Claire Hentschker, Shining360
(2016), still from 360 Video
Gurysh’s work represents the fine detail I am seeking to achieve with photogrammetry and digital fabrication, whereas Hentschker’s work with photogrammetry and 360 video embraces the phantasmic glitches inherent in the process. These ghostly traces reinforce conceptual content as she eerily floats through melty scans of abandoned malls in Merch Mulch
(2017), and her found footage reconstruction of a now demolished rollercoaster in Ghost Coaster
(2019). One of her most notable works Shining360
(2016) features haunting photogrammetric 360 video generated from Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining
”. The iconic opening scene driving through the mountains to the hotel leaves glitched artifacts as the title credits are spatialized and staggered over the unfolding landscape. There are additional flares of ethereal color when objects or actors are moving at a rate faster than the capture of the software, resulting in blood red streaks in the labyrinth from Danny’s sweatshirt.
Daniel Steegman Phantom (Kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name) https://scanlabprojects.co.uk/work/phantom/
Claire Hentschker Merch Mulch http://www.clairesophie.com/merch-mulch
Claire Hentschker Shining360 http://www.clairesophie.com/shining360excerpt
Steve Gurysh Parts per trillion http://www.stevegurysh.com/ppt.html
Laurie Anderson at MASS MoCA https://massmoca.org/event/laurie-anderson/
Oliver Laric http://oliverlaric.com/