July 20, 2018, by Matt Davies
Introducing DHC Leonardo Fellow Aja Ireland.
DHC’s Leonardo Fellow Aja Ireland introduces herself, her team and the virtual reality project that they have been working on since earlier this year and hope to build upon over the coming months.
I am an interdisciplinary artist who creates immersive audience interactions and participatory experiences with diverse audiences, and am very excited to take on the role of DHC’s Leonardo Fellow at the University of Nottingham’s Digital Humanities Centre. Alongside artists Jake Moore & Joey Holder I will be collaborating with staff and student volunteers from the DHC to create a virtual reality music video & live experience.
I first got involved with DHC following a conversation with the centre’s manager Matt Davies at one of the Digital Tools for New Audiences workshops that DHC run at Broadway Cinema. We talked about our work and, as DHC were looking to build upon their virtual reality output and 3D digitisation, we quickly realised that we had some common goals!
The DHC’s Research Associate 2016 – 2018 Paul Grossman had already began to use Unity with a team of student volunteers to create a virtual museum / art gallery so was the ideal person to start work on the virtual experience.
Working with me, Jake and Joey, and honing his VR technical and design skills Paul was able to take the project a long way towards completion before he graduated and left the University in June. I and the team are now looking forward to meeting and working with the new Research Associate(s) and student volunteers from September to continue with this and develop new projects.
It is inspired by deep sea ecosystems of underwater creatures to create an alien, virtual landscape. This VR environment will be used as an experience for live audiences, who will navigate it in real time through a computer game engine. They will move inside an unconventional fictional world, giving agency over how they experience the story they are immersed, in a live participatory artwork. These visuals will also be used in a live touring A/V performance and music video.
We are planning to input sounds from the album throughout the landscapes and environments and to collaborate in creating new weird and wonderful creatures for people to discover. It will be an immersive VR experience of elements of my album self-titled AJA which was released on Opal Tapes on May 2nd. A new way of experiencing the sound design.
I am so grateful to the DHC who are providing training, equipment and technical support for the production of this multi-dimensional artwork using the latest VR technologies. Do keep an eye on Digital Dialogues for updates on this and future projects.
Here is a little more information about the Leonardo team:
Using unsettling noise, distressed screams, handmade electronics and found objects pushed through pedals, AJA’s industrial beats and distorted drone, combined with a psycho-visceral, intense performance challenges the audience by breaking down barriers and pushing limits sonically and visually. AJA has so far had her music played at Berlin Alternative Fashion Week for designer LU LA LOOP, played live on NTS Radio and after making the sound score for artist Joey Holder for the piece “Ophiux” she was nominated for the Oram Award funded by PRS foundation. You can hear her debut album out now on Opal Tapes.
Jake’s work considers the inadequacy of the human form, in the face of our increasingly ubiquitous technological climate. Arising from the relationship that he holds with his own ailing living body, Jake employs computer animation, video and sound in the construction of a newly synthesised digital body. Jake will be collaborating with myself, Joey Holder and The University of Nottingham in creating the landscape of the environment for the VR experience. He will also be teaching workshops on how to sure digital 3D editing software to the other artists involved.
Joey Holder is interested in the structures and hierarchies of the technological and natural world and how these systems are constantly abstracted. Mixing elements of biology, nanotechnology and natural history against computer program interfaces, screen savers and measuring devices, Joey will collaborate with myself, Jake Moore and The University of Nottingham to create the environment of the VR Project.