Monday, August 17, 2015

VR x Art: One and Three Parallax Views by Mike Saijo, AES Power Plant

LA based mixed media artist Mike Saijo began developing his interactive VR (virtual reality) installation, One and Three Parallax Views, in early April after he was invited by Friends of Redondo Beach Arts to participate in their 4th annual CA 101 2015 art exhibition. Featuring roughly 126 selected artists, the group show was held inside the AES Power Plant, a large 'industrial cathedral' pop-up gallery, from its opening reception on July 31st through August 9th. 

Based on concept artist Joseph Kosuth's One and Three Chairs, Mike built an installation to represent parallax three ways: a video projection of stereoscopic view (a meditative walk through the Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai, California), three light boxes (structures covered with pages from architect Steven Holl's book Parallax (2000) along with hand-dyed back drops of colored gradations by textile master Setsuko Hayashi), and a 360-degree photograph from inside the AES Power Plant taken by Tobi Chi of the Defy Agency viewed through a Gear VR head-mounted display.

A few key decisions came together serendipitously leading up to the opening. Mike built a small shelf to hold the projector and painted the room black just days before during the install when the wall projection got "washed out" on the walls painted white during pre-install.

Artist Mike Saijo, with fellow CA 101 artist and organizer, Denis Richardson, build a mount to hold wall projector.

However, he had explored the idea of parallax a long time and talked about creating a VR installation inspired by the conspiracy thriller, The Parallax Viewwith a memorable scene featuring Warren Beatty's character being brainwashed with text and images as he sits in a dark room. 

His friend, Tobi, captured a series of 360-degree photographs of the power plant using 6 GoPro cameras on a mount and stitched them together to generate single spherical images to use in the final scene of Gate D, a VR film Mike made with his friend, Jimmie Rhee, that was a precursor to Virtuality Lab, a 360-degree videography production studio that launched this summer

Mike intended to play the film, an experimental Choose Your Own Adventure-style VR narrative film shot in LA and Nagoya with casting, effects, and a game engine, on the Gear VR, but decided to narrow it down to one 360-degree photograph centered on a single axis above the wheel that participants experienced, which quickly became a popular favorite.

As I sat inside, I wrote down some of the audience's comments: "Disorienting...but very cool."I feel like the Google car." "Everyone's makeup's going to be smeared, but it's well worth it." "I was told our experience would be incomplete if we didn't try this." "Very googlish." "My heart started beating. It was like burururu." "I'm fighting vertigo." "Don't look down." 

Redondo Beach mayor, Steve Aspel, experiences VR (virtual reality) inside Mike Saijo's One and Three Parallax Views.
Participants line up outside One and Three Parallax Views at CA 101 pop-up art gallery. 
Mike uses ink and brush to write down notes on the installation wall before the opening.
Three light boxes with pages of Steven Holl's book, Parallax, and hand-dyed back drops made by Setsuko Hayashi.
Mike explained, "I'm paraphrasing, but in Steven Holl's book, he writes about experiencing architecture like a narrative. It made sense to open up the book into a sculpture. I transformed the book pages from their sequential order to a spatial order and used the Hayashi dye as a back drop. Parallax is how we're able to see depth. As you get closer to the gradation, you see the distance, the space in-between."

With the meditative walk through the Krishnamurti Foundation, he "bridges two spaces, looking inward (consciousness) and outward (VR)" and "explores the possibility of transmitting consciousness through virtual reality."

Artist's notes with quote by Krishnamurti.
One and Three Parallax Views was awarded the 2015 Public Choice award and 2nd Place the same week VR pioneer, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, graced the cover of TIME Magazine. Mike will be exhibiting next at the LA Artcore Brewery Annex at 650 A South Ave 21 in DTLA from September 10th through October 1st. To receive an invite for the September 13th opening, email Mike. Read about the Homeboy Industries Portraits and Hayashi / Saijo Collaboration

Did you get a chance to visit CA 101? What did you think of One and Three Parallax Views? Have thoughts about VR? Share your comments below.

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