Last night, two of Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio residents Anagram and Duncan Speakman were recognised in the Top 35 XR (Extended Reality) Installations that debuted in 2019 by Forbes Magazine.
XR Installations redefine how we think about space, narrative, technology and the relationship between creator and audience by combining real and virtual environments, and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and wearables.
Both XR projects received support from the Pervasive Media Studio – Watershed's diverse community of more than 100 artists, creative companies, technologists and academics exploring experience design and creative technology which is run in partnership with University of Bristol and UWE Bristol.
Duncan Speakman’s award-winning site-responsive audio tour Only Expansion, takes people through the familiar tracks of the city, where they are prompted to observe their environment in timescales that are both fleeting and geologic, to notice how their understanding of the landscape might alter under climate collapse.
“Arresting, poised, beautiful, dark, innovative” -
Seth Honor, Kaleider
Using real-time audio software, Only Expansion remixes the sound of the city around you to experience sonically how your own life might change in the future. As field recordings of climate collapse blend into your surroundings, you begin to hear your city as if it was under water or beaten by dry desert winds. A visceral and poetic reflection on what it means to live on a planet in crisis, Only Expansion connects the here to the elsewhere, letting you experience our tangled ecology through sound.
The Collider – an immersive experience by Bristol-based Anagram explores the audience’s personal relationship with power. A machine built to decode the mysteries of human relationships, its mission is to identify and understand the invisible material that passes between people that keeps us together and pulls us apart. Created for two people at a time, each participant is invited to reconstruct a memory of feeling either powerful or powerless inside a glass display stand – using an array of miniature figurines, props and paper. Deep into the machine, their journeys converge, culminating in an unmediated encounter where the pair work out, together, what has happened and builds the real choreography of going in and out of VR, and the dynamic between the person watching and the person inside, into a theatrical experience which creates its own spectacle – a dance between two limited humans failing and failing again to see the other’s experience and then, finally, the rush of connection when they do.
“We are totally delighted to be on this illustrious list of makers from all over the world - and just round the corner! In 2019, people in Qingdao (China), New York and Venice all explored our curious machine and we’re currently plotting where to take the piece next. Keeping the playing field of experimentation open is our top priority - XR and VR experiences are so new, and we need to keep trying out strange and unexpected ideas to press at the edges of what these new mediums can do!"
“The recognition of Duncan and Anagram's projects in the Top 35 XR Installations to debut in 2019 is a celebration of artistic work that is driven by meaning, craft and depth of experience; putting content before the technology and carefully considering the idea and its audience. We are so proud to have supported both artists with time and space to ask questions, try out ideas and test prototypes at an early stage in a diverse community of researchers and practitioners. Congratulations to them and their teams!”
Jo Lansdowne, Executive Producer at Pervasive Media Studio