For my Video for New Media final, I wanted to create a warped 3D character. I liked the glitch aesthetic, and in asking around about current adaptations of glitch video, Todd Bryant suggested that 3D models and worlds have many interesting corollaries with glitch videos.
Here’s the end result:
I found a few inspiring examples:
And, of course, the work coming out of ITP's own Matt Romein's thesis project:
I was drawn to the hypnotic motion of the stretching bodies and the juxtaposition of realistic-looking 3D bodies twisting in unimaginable ways. During my research, I had the idea to do a glitched VR version of Tino Sehgal's Kiss. I liked the idea.
Sehgal's Kiss is a performance art piece acquired by MoMA (for "a five-figure amount"). Sehgal provides basic instructions to actors of the performance, which is intended to be an ephemeral experience - no photographs or videos are allowed during the performance.
The slow deliberate movement of the models’s bodies in Sehgal’s piece translated well to the above examples. Moreover, adapting a voyeuristic piece that can only be experienced in person into a VR environment and using glitch to heighten this tension was a way for me to express my frustration with the commercialization of VR as an “empathy machine.”
The overall process involved
The first step was to find characters I could animate. Since my budget was $0, I went to Mixamo, which has a bunch of free 3D models, and picked a couple of the non-zombie characters in their set. Mixamo also has (free) animations, so I browsed for ones that would come close to replicating the movements in Kiss, settling on Zombie Crawl and Prone Roll.
The next step was to learn Unity. More specifically, learning how to
Unity had a steeper learning curve than I anticipated, but the documentation and online community was quite useful. Starting with the Roll-A-Ball tutorial was an quite useful piece of advice, since it quickly goes over the basics of setting up a 3D environment and covers all those little details that, as a beginner, you'd never think of until it's too late.
I received a lot of useful feedback from the class. Everyone thought it was weird. I'm glad that came across. Gabe suggested looking into other types of glitches specific to 3D environments; my project used one particular type of glitch and apparently there are several other types. And once I have a better sense of the types of glitches, then I can make more conscious decisions about which ones I use.
Also, I couldn't get the plugin working in time that would bring the project into a VR headset like Oculus or Vive, so I want to get that working.
Based on the positive feedback I receive, I'd like to continue working on the project and maybe turn it into something for the Winter Show. I'm taking PComp this fall and it will be interesting to consider how to incorporate physical interaction into the project. One possibility would be to create joysticks that allow users to control the movement of each character in the environment, and the characters glitch when they touch.