Final Reflections Trans-States: The Art of Deception Conference 2022 – VR Installations
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
My apologies for the delay in making this final post about the Trans-States Conference; I fell ill a few days after returning home, and it took quite a long time to recover from a nasty flu bug. However, there was one final post that I wanted to make concerning two Virtual Reality installations that were present at the conference. (I was able to participate with one; sadly, the other I missed out on due to time constraints.) While I’m no expert in virtual reality technology or the use of the technology, I do find it extremely interesting and am always eager to learn more. “The Tarot Experience VR” by Adam Malone is an immersive tarot reading experience. By wearing the special VR headset, the participant is transported to another realm for a unique tarot journey. Adam chose to focus on the Major Arcana for this experience, and created his own deck for this project. As this project has not yet launched, I am prohibited from giving details about the technology and exactly what occurs during the reading; however, for this blog post it is more relevant to note the beautiful art that was created for this project, including the original music and narration of the tarot cards. All of these factors combined provide a deeply engaging and entrancing experience that definitely lingered in my mind, allowing for deeper contemplation of the reading. The second VR installation (that I sadly did not experience myself) was created by Sonja Rendtorff, titled “Daimon Says.” Quoting from the Trans-States program booklet, this is a virtual reality environment that interfaces with the interactions, communications, and symbolic forms of, what I call, my ‘dream daimon’. My project explores the transference of meaning between dream states and wakefulness through computer-generated virtual reality (VR). The digital context of the code-produced mathematical parameters that result in VR is able – when done well – to trick our brain into perceiving that the presented universe is real even if we have a preconceived notion that it is an illusion. The project experiments with ways of manipulating the brain to activate pathways that enable a lucid dialogue with that shapeshifter of the night, the dream. By pulling these dream dialogues apart, creating dynamic symbols and testing their communicative strength, I am creating a dream alphabet, aiming to find patterns across the different states of consciousness that enable a meeting of the two. The symbols can be activated in different virtual reality environments under the power of mathematics but are guided by dreams. The feedback from VR to dream and visa versa creates trans-narratives centred around a communication pathway to the what, it, or who that lurks under the veil of sleep. As Sonja explains, this work explores the questions of ‘what is real’ as well as ‘what is consciousness’ when one considers the relationship between humans and machines. I regret I didn’t get to experience this for myself, but hope to have the opportunity in the future to partake in other installations such as these. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In conclusion, my first attendance and experience of the Trans-States conference was incredibly delightful and deeply thought-provoking. An interview with conference organizer Cavan McLaughlin is in the planning, so please keep a look out for more discussion about this unique forum for exchange!
For more information about this conference, please visit http://www.trans-states.org.