Voyeur Reality – fine art erotica and VR

July 13, 2015

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4K Stereoscopic 360 Panoramic Rendering http://www.vrideo.com/watch/l3ngW0O (using Unity3D pro – VRpanorama plugin)

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About this Virtual Reality project:

I am not a pornographer, but rather an artist interested in social and cultural issues surrounding gender and identity.

Just as pornography fueled the sales of home video cassette recorders (remember VCRs?), virtual reality porn is a wave about to break over everything.  The (solo) immersive headset is an alienating and isolating experience. Pornography cuts away and silences many things.  In doing so, it is a perfect match for immersive VR.  My intention is to create a VR project which pre-empts this and asks, “What should we really do with VR, with its enormous potential for abuse?”

Enormous Potential for Abuse: Yesterday, Livi Erickson, a VR evangelist from Microsoft told me something astounding:  Years after an immersive VR experience, that same experience is recalled as having been real.

The brain installed the VR experience in the same place as memories of reality.  Ms Erickson and I were at the SoCal VR expo at UCI.  Matthew Gratzner, the director of The Mission – VR, told us this anecdote:  He was editing the 360 project at home wearing the headset, checking for stitching errors and technical glitches.  After a half hour, he removed the headset and wondered “WTF am I doing in a strange living room.”—even though he was intimate with the writing, production, and all the technical aspects of creating his VR experience.

Storytelling in VR:  (some of this is excerpted from a SoCal VR Expo panel 2015/07/12)

At one point in The Mission – VR, the viewer finds herself on a battlefield surrounded by corpses.  Even in a photographic/cinematic 360 VR such as The Mission – VR, what wells up in the viewer is the question, ”Who am I in this?” The viewer’s identity, her own first person POV character, is created in response to this question. More importantly, does the question open onto fear, aggression, or empathy? All of those are possible, but which one is useful to the theme or intention? What is ‘inscripted’ on the viewer’s body while answering this question?
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4K Monoscopic Screenshot http://www.vrideo.com/watch/VANV8s8 (Unity3D pro – VRpanorama plugin)

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Can a male POV be forced onto a female viewer while she’s immersed in the VR headset? Not really. The hetero-normative male has been trying to impose his POV onto the world through media for too long—women have been too smart to accept it.  There’s a fancy word for it:  scopophilia. Conversely, if a female POV could be forced onto a male while in the VR headset, there might be some healing. Can the (VR mediated) realities of a veteran’s war experience be imposed on her, or used for the treatment of his own PTSD?

Storytelling Tabula Rasa: There’s a woman stuck in a chair, or standing on a 3 foot diameter ‘rumble platform’ wearing a head mounted display. How can I create a visual story which has no edits and exists on a continuous stream-of-consciousness timeline?

The three most important elements are personal space, intimacy, and scale:

Personal Space (physical intimacy). The personal space that we protect is about one meter surrounding the body.  We know it well and can judge distance and scale very accurately within that one meter.  It is also a space that we protect.  When it’s violated we react emotionally.

What creates Emotional Intimacy?
If manipulation of Scale is actually a manipulation of the viewer’s scale—i.e. her age, her powers, her POV, etc., and not just manipulation of the objects around her—what is the most effective tactic for manipulating emotion by manipulating scale?

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VR’s essential Structural Problem will always be cause-and-effect, how to draw the viewer onto the next scene, keep her interested. Scenes in film scripts are rarely more than a page and a half (90 seconds of screen time). They have the same structure as the macro — i.e., a mini-three-act with an entry point of engagement, development, and (crucially) a ‘button’ which must ask “then what happens?” But, sadly, what happens next is the authorial presence of the editor or director:  the cinematic ‘cut.’  Cutting conventions and much of the visual syntax of conventional filmmaking are not applicable to VR storytelling—or to VR on-set production, or even to the actor’s performance.
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About structure specific to Voyeur Reality.

From Aristotle:  a catharsis must be built into the theatrical structure (into the timeline of the VR experience).
But how do you gain the trust of the viewer and say to them . . .

“Bring all of you into this experience. Retain an openness to your emotions.“
“What you will experience may be very difficult but essential.”
“Trust me.” (whispered)
“Pornography is usually abusive, however . . .”
“Do you need a mechanism to reject all this, to accept all this?”
“Do you have a ‘Pain that’s afraid to have a voice,’ afraid to be spoken?”
“Are there uses for fear?”

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The picture above is a live screenshot from the Unity3D Editor, my authoring environment for this project. The human figures are 3D body scans licensed for personal, non-profit use. The other elements are objects that I modeled or purchased for legal use.

http://www.unity3d.com/

http://www.roadtovr.com/the-mission-vr-wwii-short-film-jaunt-vr-cinematic-vr/

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