Visions of Our Communal Dreams
Michael Takeo Magruder
With Drew Baker, Erik Fleming and David Steele
United-Kingdom / United States of America
Visions of Our Communal Dreams is a new media art installation blending virtual, physical and networked environments that explores issues of hybridity, embodiment and collective creativity in the Digital Age. The artwork is comprised of two public spaces – one virtual and one physical – that are inherently connected in order to create a series of mixed-reality contexts, situations and experiences.
The installation’s virtual component consists of a fantastical landscape constructed using the open source 3D application server OpenSimulator. This synthetic, ‘living’ metaverse is defined by the creative aspirations of its avatar inhabitants and is intrinsically linked to a changing selection of physical gallery spaces. Real-time interactions and exchanges flow between the virtual and physical realms through various site-specific portals ranging from immersive architectural projections to arrangements of small painterly artefacts. These gateways are realised through telematic interfaces that allow residents from both discrete locations to gaze upon each other and their surroundings, thus creating uncanny connections and dialogues between the worlds.
Visions of Our Communal Dreams is not merely a self-contained artistic experience, but rather, is part of a wider conversation and journey that seeks to consider a future vision of work and play made possible through the creative use of avatars and virtual worlds.
You can join Visions of Our Communal Dreams’ Virtual World, following these instructions: VOCD_virtual-participation-guide_v1.0_web copy
Educational workshops in Liverpool
To support this endeavour, the project has encompassed a programme of interrelated educational workshops with 9 students from Weatherhead Media Arts College, that have been learning skills relating to avatar customisation and collaborative content creation that fed back into both the artwork and its underlying creative processes.
Through a series of workshops, the students learned how to create a communal forest within a shared 3D environment in virtual worlds. Over eight sessions, they learned industry standard and transportable skills such as basic scripting and animation, avatar body and clothing customisation and constructing and texturing builds. The ‘forest’ has been exhibited in FACT’s gallery and public spaces, and audiences will be able to interact (plant a tree for example) and see it through a series of windows or ‘portals’ in unexpected places in the building. Read more about these workshops in FACT here. Watch the Weatherhead’s workshop video here.
Visions of our Communal Dreams at FACT: www.fact.co.uk/projects/robots-and-avatars/michael-takeo-magruder-visions-of-our-communal-dreams/
Visions of Our Communal Dreams is a 2011-12 development commission for the Robots & Avatars project. Commissioned by body>data>space and the National Theatre in association with FACT and the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. The project is funded with the support of the Culture programme of the European Union (2007-2013) with additional support from King’s College London’s Creative Futures fund.
Visions of Our Communal Dreams v2.0 is a 2011-12 development commission for the Robots & Avatars project. Commissioned by body>data>space and the National Theatre in association with KIBLA, Maribor and the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. The project is funded by the EU Culture programme with additional support from King’s College London’s Creative Futures fund and Arts Council of England.
Michael Takeo Magruder (concept and lead artist)
Michael Takeo Magruder (b.1974, US/UK) is an internationally recognised visual artist and researcher based in the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London who works with digital and new media including real-time data, immersive environments, mobile devices and virtual worlds. His practice explores concepts ranging from media criticism and aesthetic journalism to digital formalism and computational aesthetics, deploying Information Age technologies and systems to examine our networked, media-rich world.
In the last ten years, Michael’s projects have been showcased in over 200 exhibitions in 30 countries, including the Courtauld Institute of Art, London; EAST International, Norwich; Eastside Projects, Birmingham; Georges Pompidou Center, Paris; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan; and Trans-Media-Akademie, Hellerau. His work has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Arts Council England and The National Endowment for the Arts, USA. Michael has been commissioned by numerous public galleries in the UK and abroad and by the leading Internet Art portal Turbulence.org. His research focuses on the intersections between contemporary art, emerging technology and interdisciplinary practice, and his writings have been widely published. In 2010, Michael was selected to represent the UK at Manifesta 8: the European Biennial of Contemporary Art and several of his most well-known digital artworks were added to the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell University.
Visions of Our Communal Dreams builds upon the concepts, aesthetics and technologies of the project team’s past mixed-reality installations using Second Life including:
|Changing Room v2.0, 2010
Vanishing Point(s), 2010
|Changing Room v1.0, 2009
Data Double, 2009
The Vitruvian World, 2008
Drew Baker (OpenSimulator modeling and programming)
Drew Baker (b.1968, UK) is a Research Fellow within the Department of Digital Humanities, Kings College London. One of the founding members of the King’s Visualisation Lab he has worked in the field of 3D visualisation and interpretation of archaeology and history since 1997. He specialises in the use of 3D systems, employing technologies ranging from interactive web-based platforms like VRML and Unity3D to shared virtual environments such as Second Life and OpenSimulator. His primary areas of interest concern developing real-time 3D environments that transform consumers of humanities scholarship into active participants and researching issues surrounding the long-term preservation of digital cultural heritage.
Erik Fleming (OpenSimulator development and administration)
Erik Fleming (b.1989, US) is a computer science graduate of James Madison University, Virginia. His main areas of interest include programming for database and multimedia applications, working with cloud computing and Linux-based server environments, and developing network management systems. His present projects and activities involve undertaking backend software development and administration using server-side technologies ranging from Java to OpenSimulator.
David Steele (network design and server-side programming)
David Steele (b.1972, US) is a senior technical consultant based in Arlington, Virginia, USA innovating in progressive web programming and database architecture. He has been working with a wide range of web technologies since the mid-nineties and was a pioneer in pairing cutting-edge clients to existing corporate infrastructures. His work has enabled a variety of advanced applications from global text messaging frameworks to re-entry systems for the space shuttle. He is currently involved in developing massively parallel database systems with unprecedented data rates and redundancy.