Our summer intern Katelynne reflects on the liminal space between virtual and reality within Carla Gannis / C.A.R.L.A. G.A.N.: wwwunderkammer and shares her experience attending Annex Dance Company’s V3: A Dance Installation during Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
Having attended all three performances of Annex Dance Company’s dance installation of V3 in collaboration with Carla Gannis’s wwwunderkammer, every performance was incredibly rewarding. As an intern staffing these events, my primary job was to allow for the attendees of the performance to view the augmented reality (AR) portion of the exhibition alongside the dancers, but I was also able to witness the performance just as the other attendees. AR technology superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, providing a composite view. For this portion of the performance, another intern and I held up iPad cameras in view of the panels in the South Gallery, which has been transformed into the wwwunderkammer Main Hall, a lovely vibrant carpeted room fixtured with large wall-covering Xanita board panels printed with themed cabinets of curiosity and large still prints of the seven avatars of Carla Gannis’s Virtues and Vices, both of which come alive when scanned with the iPads through the artist’s AR platform. While the dancers performed, the avatars were invited to dance along with them through our screens, working in harmony to bring together the human and virtual worlds in a deep and enthralling performance.
Test out the AR by visiting carlagannis.com/halseyAR on your own device with a camera. Aim your camera at the images below to see the objects and avatars in the Main Hall become enhanced and enlivened. Please note that your device may take longer to load the AR. If you see black squares, hold your device still and wait for the images to load.
The performance backdrop was that of a vast virtual wonderland. The dancers performed as if they existed in the virtual world of the wwwunderkammer, bringing elements of the virtual world to you, the viewer, without the need to don a virtual reality headset.
In one of the main focal points of the exhibition, the Chalsty Gallery mirrors the view of an Oculus virtual reality (VR) headset in the wwwunderkammer lobby, with a series of portals through which the user may enter additional chambers within the social VR space. Throughout the performance, the dancers interacted with and “opened” the small portals to enter the different “rooms” of the wwunderkammer. These rooms can simply be just that, a room, or they can be a whole different exciting world entirely. Across the twenty minutes of the performance, the dancers entered and exited these rooms of the wwwunderkammer and collaborated with each other and the avatars of the wwwunderkammer.
Being an audience member of the performance was a new, surreal, and hypnotizing experience for everyone who attended. The dancers integrated the audience as part of the dance itself, starting at one point in the center of the Chalsty Gallery, then guiding the audience to the edges of the room with verbal cues, like “Come, the center is no more. Follow us to the edges,” leading us where they pleased. The performance also simultaneously took place in both the Chalsty and South Galleries. Performing to the same audio background, the two portions of the dance were completely different for each room. After some time, the dancers gave us another verbal and physical cue, asking that the audience members switch between the two spaces, then coming full circle together in the Chalsty Gallery once again and concluding the performance.
Written by Katelynne Schmelzer, Halsey Institute Intern
Performance Images by Catie Cleveland
Exhibition Images by Rick Rhodes
Visit Carla Gannis’s wwwunderkammer here.