This project explores real-time interactive world-building in virtual reality. Users speak and objects appear around them. They ask kindly and mountains move. Basically, it turns them into the gods of their own terrible little worlds. Voice control allows virtual reality to feel a little closer to our reality, in which spoken words have meaning and merit responses. This experience allows us to consider what might happen when virtual reality advances enough to feel truly real: will we all succumb to the temptations of complete control and live our lives in VR?
This short story presents a not-too-distant future in which people have complicated relationships with other people, with their own self-concept and with ‘virtual identities.’ In short, very little about this world feels unlike our own. The aspect of this future scenario which felt most interesting was how the main character and her (AI-native) children had a very different conception of the virtual assistant, Augusta. I was reminded of a talk from Stefania Druga (Media Lab) about her research into ‘Growing Up with AI’.
The podcast Sandra introduces a world in which the eponymous ‘virtual assistant’ is not in fact virtual, but composed of many human assistants speaking through a single anonymizing electronic voice. In this world, people hired to control this virtual assistant take an aptitude test to determine their specific sub-specialty (birds, relationships, etc.). Only requests relating to those subjects will be routed to them and their responses are relayed to the users of ‘Sandra’ through a single modulated voice.
The World of the Play John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch takes place inside an (East) Broadway theater – the Belasco – on a stage otherwise occupied by the set of the recently opened-and-closed Hurt Locker: The Musical. The stage set is composed of the bombed-out husk of a vehicle on a ‘Middle Eastern’ street with parts of the car hang in mid-air as though a bomb were currently exploding.
For my assignment this week, I made a voice controlled map! This week, I tried both two voice-controlled games – Chicken Scream and YASUHATI – on my Android phone. Both games are simple side scrollers with voice-activated character movements. The basic controls for both games are identical: - both games are volume-controlled, without regard for pitch or semantics (more on this later) - a low-volume input causes the character to walk forward - a medium-volume input causes the character to jump - a high-volume input causes the character to jump higher I found both games extremely difficult to control.
As part of our response to Carson Kreitzer’s “Lasso of Truth” we made Cornell Boxes (Joseph Cornell, not the CGI render tests…) encapsulating and expressing our feelings about the play. As an actor, the process of understanding a play often begins and ends with text. Through scene work, movement exercises and various other rehearsal techniques, we attempt to internalize the text: turn words on a page into words which ring true when we speak.
The World of the Play The world of Carson Kreitzer’s “Lasso of Truth” is comprised of several distinct spaces in place and time, each with its own action and characters. The main spaces are: a. the workshop and home of the INVENTOR, WIFE and later AMAZON, which spans from the 1930s onward, b. a comic book store in the 90s, then restaurant, then apartment in which GIRL tries to purchase the first Wonder Woman comic from GUY, c.
How does it feel when you arrive. What’s your first emotional response? Please note that monumental sculpture at the Central Park West entrance. Write down what you see. Right there…don’t think about it, don’t put it off The walk down Central Park WEST from 81st street smelled sickly-sweet from the nuts-for-nuts and hotdog stands, and now that I’m in front of AMNH in a sweater on a 80 degree day, I would very much like to be inside.
In Peter Brooks’ “The Empty Space” and Elinor Fuchs’ “Visit to a Small Planet,” we hear an approach to theater which respects process above all else. For Brooks, this process happens in rehearsal through collaboration between director, actor, design. For Fuchs, this process happens through a careful approach of an unknown text – assuming nothing but what can be read on the page, we build a picture of a world in collaboration with the text.