Lauren Aleza Kaye 18 April 2017

VR Visions of an Ancient Sequoia


Today we're hearing from the members of Marshmallow Laser Feast about their latest environment-centered VR installation, Treehugger: Wawona, which is going to be showcased this month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. 


Describe your team and their various areas of expertise. What does it take to bring these interdisciplinary projects to fruition?

We're a group of friends who have stuck at it and found ourselves in quite peculiar but adventurous settings. On a bland level, we're multimedia artists. However it's increasingly attractive to say we're an experiential studio so in the hope of keeping the interesting work flowing in, we'll go with the latter!

We began as a group of curious collaborators who weren't afraid of taking risks to realise the work we wanted to make. Things like our network of friends/collaborators has evolved over time to what it is today which is a studio of men and women who have caught the collaboration bug!

Could you briefly describe the process required to create your latest environment + conservation focused installation, Treehugger:Wawona ?

We used Lidar & photogrammetry to scan a giant sequoia, one of the world’s largest living organisms. We then developed realtime tools that allowed us to create an interactive VR experience for 4 Vive headsets and a physical interface; a sculpture resembling the base of the tree that people hug.

What technology is your team waiting for? Are there types of projects you'd love to create but have not yet been able to realize?

We’re curious about some of the extraordinary things AI and machine learning offers artists and makers. Also we have a keen eye on the AR tech Apple may have up their sleeves alongside Magic Leap. We’re also hugely excited about Lightfield tech such as the Lytro Immerge. We also love the technology Ultrahaptics in the U.K. are developing. We’ve got many elaborate projects on the list that will need to wait for the tech to improve in order to realise them.

What resources would improve your ability to do your work?

Like all creative teams, tech, expertise and space is always scarce. Generally massive spaces with gigantic ceilings are what we aim to work with. In terms of tech, again, there are extraordinary developments in machine learning and volumetric capture that we’re excited by do some clever boffins with super computers are always welcome too!

Who are your influences and which books/films/visual art do you have close by for research and inspiration?

Our team is inspired by a vast range of work- design, art & lots of emerging ideas that are showing up in the VR/AR/XR world. At the moment we’re collaborating with someone called James Paterson who’s known as Presstube - a pioneer in the art and code world, very inspired by his work. Also people like Lucy McRae, Cohen van Balen inspire us. As do the people emerging from fantastic courses such as the Interactive Architecture Lab who we collaborate with inspire us a great deal.


You can see Treehugger this month at Tribeca:Immersive at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC!


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