Description of the challenges faced by the Tech Project
This project aims to offer ultimate immersive and interactive experiences that combines VR media with innovative technologies to survey underwater shipwrecks. Public perception of shipwrecks is typically very different from what can actually be observed underwater. The challenge is to propose and create experiences that will allow lay people to better understand the research processes related to underwater archeological sites, but also to engage, view and interact with this very special places which are out of sight. A further challenge is to enhance user immersion and virtual presence through the development and integration of a fictional dimension based on aspects of those mysterious and dramatic contexts that offer a peculiarly suggestive subject.
Brief description of technology
In terms of technology, we are aiming to explore and create virtual immersive experiences in the archaeological site to be run on a first phase on VR devices such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and on a simpler version on mobile VR environments such as Google Cardboard. Footage from wrecks can be obtained by divers or LSTS robots with 360 / dual-camera mounts. These images can be used to render virtual reality immersive visualizations for actual diving locations. For interaction, devices as the hand controllers of Vive/Rift, Leap Motion or others can be considered. We also may resort to other interaction devices, such as impact or thermal vests, to increase the sense of immersion. To produce additional content, we may rely on the Unity or Unreal game engines, or other alternatives that can be discussed with the artist(s). At a later stage (which may be outside the scope of this residence), the experience may be extended/adapted to a full dome or CAVE-like environment.
What the project is looking to gain from the collaboration and what kind of artist would be suitable
Our goal is to offer an artist, preferably an artist collective, the opportunity to develop a VR project that brings together public communication of science and research, visualization of scientific contents and data and virtual world. Artist(s) should be skilled in contents production of that kind and able to conceive and develop an intense immersion experience. SHIE | Sea of Histories - Immersive Experience will provide a dual benefit: boosting creativity in outreach activities and research practice; artist(s) will be challenged by scientific – technological knowledge, methods and practices, namely logical rigor and self-criticism. It’s a win – win situation!
Resources available to the artist
We offer access to data, sound and visual contents (photos, videos, sonar and magnetic maps, 2D and 3D records) and other documents that have been produced during the process. Artist(s) will have access to the labs and to the devices and software mentioned in the technology description, and possibly others within our reach that can be of use to the project, including other facilities from the Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto. The artist(s) will also have the possibility to visit the facilities and artifacts related to the site as well as participate in future expeditions.