Alice XR: A Machine For Thinking, 2019
Computer, software, VR headset, Vive VR world + 3-channel animation
3 Channel Video plus computer software
Alice XR: A Machine For Thinking is a physical room installation consisting of projections on three walls with a VR headset accessible in the center of the room. The Alice world was conceived of as “a machine for thinking,” a virtual chamber for repose and contemplation. It is the third work loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, created by media artist Claudia Hart. Alice is a computer animation featuring a live performance by the dancer Kristina Isabelle which was digitally captured. The avatar’s dance was then staged inside of an artificial fantasy world created by Hart. Hart then built a VR experience merging both realities, and asked the cellist Danielle DeGrutolla to improvise music within this mixed reality. The music and the realistic motions of the dancer respond directly to the artificial world, merging to create an other-worldly yet visceral work.
This work mixes realities in the truest sense. The installation combines different perceptual models in an exhibition space. The first is the “flat” three-channel high-definition movie projection. The second takes place within what has been mathematically and therefore perceptually constructed as a spherical dome: the Vive VR world. These two kinds of representational space coexist simultaneously, though each emerges from a different epoch in art history. The 3-channel animation uses a version of photographic illusionism coming from the 19th -20th century, the age of the analog camera. The VR dome-like space is post photographic, and is a new kind of post-digital picture-making. Alice XR is a halfway space, one that is truly liminal. It bridges multiple worlds by uniting two very different representational strategies. But it is also a world of inverted logic capable of confounding the mind and its perceptions.