Calling all students: Opportunity to help create or feature in a new Virtual Reality artwork for campus.

LU Arts gathered interest from students at the university to get involved in a Virtual Reality (VR) project with leading dance and technology organisation Displace Studio. This opportunity was aimed at anyone who was interested in learning about creative technology such as performing in the metaverse, games development, 3D capture and modelling and creating immersive and XR experiences.  

We also looked for dancers, actors and athletes to feature in the artwork itself who would be recorded performing within different contexts that would then be added to a virtual world.   

No prior experience in VR was necessary to take part. 

About Displace Studio 

Displace Studio is a Mixed Reality Performance Studio Co-lead by Digital Dance Artist Kerryn Wise & Creative Technologist Ben Neal. Exploring the intersection of dance, film, physical theatre, and digital technology, their work often takes the form of intimate, dreamlike journeys through uncertain places rich in symbolism and metaphor in which curious behaviours are encountered.  

The Idea 

This project will be created over the coming months and will be loosely based on the Victorian paper peepshows, often thought to be early iterations of VR. Audience members will put on a VR headset in an unusual location at the University, such as the Council Chamber in Hazlerigg or a sports pitch. 

In the VR headset music will play and you will see a series of scenes stretching out in multiple layers before you. As you peer through into the first location, digital people (our student performers),objects and items appear. From this space you realise that there is yet another hole to a parallel second space opening up and you can move through into another layer, then another, and another – travelling from scene to scene.  

The creative content of the artwork will use dance/movement/choreography in response to chosen locations across the campus, which will be rebuilt in VR using volumetric capture and Unity.  

What are the timescales? 

Initial workshops took place in January and February 2023 with further workshops and development of the artwork during the spring and summer terms. The final VR artwork will be launched on campus in June 2023. 

What are the benefits of getting involved? 

Students will gain practical experience in VR and collaborating with professional artists as well as developing skills such as coding, 3D modelling and motion graphics. This can boost their CV and improve their employability.