my final university project explored VIRTUAL IMMORTALITY. the idea that my downloads folder will outlive me. the idea that it's impossible to die. the idea that an AI chatbot could be made from all my online communications and pose as me. the internet. the idea of virtual influencers. illusions. escapism.
i explored and used VR as a means of solidifying a virtual space. a space that will never change. a space that doesn't exist. a space that you can't go to but can be in. a space with no borders, rules or logic. a space of freedom?
i wrote two poems and turned them into 360/ VR videos.
written writings on the topic of virtual reality
I started this project gesturing into areas of interest and thought hoping to grip on something, and when I did it was hard to let go. Virtual Immortality, a life online is a life forever.
Areas of initial research included companies such as 'Deadsocial' and 'Liveson' which both provide beyond the grave media posting services. An app called 'Luka' based on a deceased persons online input in efforts to comfort a grieving friend using AI. I thought about the time Facebook accidentally memorialised users pages, instantly killing millions of people, and I even got paid £7 to help train an AI chatbot called 'Ami' for the local council in Stockport. Digging deeper into AI usabilities I came across a web app called 'PiX2Pix' which uses drawn input and turns it into precious artistic renditions. You can watch me interact with it here. This led to extensive fascinations over Virtual Influencers Shudu and Lil Miquela. I became obsessed with their illusions of AI through social output. I discovered an AI Buddhist Priest in Japan and came across the work of artist Bruce Lacey.
Researching virtual personalities led me to justify purchasing a cheap mannequin head used for wigs and install an even cheaper web cam in its eye. He is called Mark.
My main creative output throughout my research was written, so naturally I began composing finished poems to spoken audio files, before creating an instrumental track to accompany them.
Next was generating visuals. The audio itself carried heavy atmosphere and a spoken focal point, so I wanted the visuals to be relatively indirect but related to the subject matter. I'd wanted to explore immersive video for a while so I took this as an opportunity to find out how to construct it. I experimented with directly drawing into equirectangular grids and injecting them with metadata to be read as 360 images, which led to experimenting with GIFS, before reaching video. I also experimented with GoPro's VR Player to mess with different media and observe how it gets manipulated. I then explored Adobe Premiere Pro's Immersive Video effects and plugins. Playing around, reading and watching tutorials enabled me to understand and generate my own VR videos.
I then presented these videos via QR codes at my year's graduate shows titled Jackpot at Brighton University and The Truman Brewery in London (2019). I provided two kinds of head mounted displays for mobile phones and instructions on how to interact with them. Although this was a risky move I wanted to push the medium and present my work how I intended it to be seen.