Of the Spheres, Psycho, Spiritual Body.
Vibration Group is a Transmedia Immersive performance and an Alternate reality experience that speculates on modes of cultural survival and preservation in a dystopian future directed by Anna Luisa Petrisko. The project has two variations: An immersive experimental Sci Fi Opera, where participants visit a spaceship commune floating in space, and an interactive Videoconference performance, where the members of the spaceship transmit information to earth.
Transmedia Immersive Performance • Alternate Reality Experience
Experience Designer • Environment Artist • Performer
Interactive Experience Designers:
Ana Carolina Estarita Guerrero
I was brought to Vibration Group to work alongside Tonia B to design and implement the digital components of the experimental Sci Fi Opera. Later on, when Covid-19 hit the world, we designed an alternative remote experience that maintained the participative elements of the original version. We called this variation STARCAST.
THE TASK AT HAND
The main component of Vibration Group is the Immersive Sci Fi Opera experience that takes place in a not so distant future. The digital elements of the piece were key to expand the world building and ensure the visitors participation.
While designing the digital components of the show, we gave priority to the prototypes that gave the participants more context about the piece in exchange for the most straightforward interaction. The two elements we decided to develop were the Virtual Reality Spa and the Intergalactic Open Source Library.
THE VIRTUAL REALITY SPA: EARTHNESS
The inhabitants of the Spaceship of Vibration Group, have been for many years away from earth. As a mechanism for coping with the lack of natural landscape, they’ve developed “Earthness” a virtual reality Spa in which with the help of Machine learning and using data collected from the sporadic visitors of the spaceship, they are able to render a “realistic” simulation of earth, though some claim they might have tweaked one variable or another to get an enhanced version of earth.
If in the Lore of Vibration Group, the spaceship crew is fluent in the use of the virtual reality spa, however, most people visiting the opera had never used Virtual Reality before. Therefore, we had to develop an experience that was both interactive and straightforward.
Each show of Vibration Group had around 60 - 70 attendees, and we wanted as many people as possible to visit the Virtual reality Spa. With this in mind we decided to use Oculus Go as it was the most affordable standalone headset, giving us the possibility of having 10 stations, running at the same time.
As a trade-off for its accessibility Oculus Go came with a Caveat: Limited processing power and interaction. To work around this limitations we made some “out of this world” decisions:
The Virtual reality landscape was a mixture of Pre-Rendered Stereo Spherical Footage and Real Time elements developed in Unity that responded to the interaction of the participants and matched Anna Luisa's visual design sense.
We used the Go controller rotation and position as input: This removed the need of familiarizing the participants with the control and its buttons.
To incorporate the technology even more into the lore, the Go controller was inside a plushie “crystal that connected with your heart”. At the beginning of the experience we would ask the participants to move the crystal “until it aligned with their energies and they found grounding”. This prompt invited participants to move the plushie around, causing them to quickly learn that the rotation and position of this crystal had an effect in the VR world.
The Oculus go was a 3DoF headset, to make this limitation less evident and increase the immersiveness, the visitors were seated on a beach chair at the beginning of the experience. This matched the first landscape experienced on Earthness: a paradisaic beach on earth.
THE INTERGALACTIC OPEN SOURCE LIBRARY
The members of Vibration Group are not the only humans floating in the Space. There’s an active network formed by other space communes, that share their research through the Intergalactic Open source Library. The visitors of Vibration Group can access the public resources of this library through a touch screen computer located on the Lobby of the spaceship.
Just as with the Visual reality Spa, a key concern was creating a system that had a very straightforward user experience and that in exchange gave as much context as possible. Given all the variables existing during the development of the library, Tonia, who is the HTML wizard of the spaceship, developed the whole system web-based, allowing us to host it in a myriad of platforms.
Given the amount of content needed to create such a library, the process was highly collaborative: Each member of Vibration Group offered images, texts, recordings and titles that could’ve been produced and consumed by their characters in the alternate reality of the piece.
Afterwards Tonia and I, unified the content and designed and the missing elements.
STARCAST BY VIBRATION GROUP
In March of 2020, Covid-19 became a public health crisis in the United States. As a result, a myriad of programmed shows were canceled or postponed. In this new world, Vibration Group had to find a new way of existing. We called this new iteration Starcast by Vibration Group.
Starcast was premiered at the LACMA members program, and continued to be performed in the GLAS Stream by GLAS Animation Festival, CultureHub Re-Regenaration Fest and Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.