Endless Flow

One of Paola Esobar’s visions for the NPC tool was to create an unending mass of bodies, flowing past the viewer. The bodies would be in all shapes and varieties, at all scales and in as many forms as possible. Though domain limitations prevented a truly overwhelming crowd, we generated a busy path filled with an assortment of characters. To our surprise, we encountered another glitch with many of the avatars from the High Fidelity marketplace – many arms were elongated, and eyeballs sat just in front of eye sockets. Some were frozen in place or stuck waist-deep in the floor. They became concretizations of the embodiment problems we had been investigating.

We used the starting Sandbox terrain for our world to reference measurement, quantification, and the looseness of scale in virtual space. Donning a Rift headset, I began recording and moved through this populated land, with Paola directing me. I in a sense became her avatar, moving where she directed me, interacting in ways she would herself have interacted. We spoke to each other throughout the journey, and post-recording, we then walked through the physical building we were working in, taking field recordings of our footsteps, incidental noises, etc. We overlaid these two tracks to conflate the virtual with the physical.

The final piece places the viewer, with no body, inside a spherical space, watching a large screen of this recording. Earphones play the overlaid tracks, and it becomes difficult to know if someone in the room is disrupting you, or if all of the sounds are part of the work.