Jun Zhou: Avatars, Extended Reality, And Synthetic Media: Forming The New Identity Update

Since the last post, I have been reading different materials to prepare myself for the lit review part of the paper and getting in touch with tools to create emerging technologies to form my own creative project. Textual materials include The Immersive Enclosure and Virtual Menageries, as well as some writings by Antonin Artaud on creating theatre experiences. From the practice’s perspective, I had a good time playing with different tools in creating assets or experiences in virtual identities, like Unity AR Foundation, Vroid, SparkAR, AR.js, etc. I now have a clearer idea about how rapidly the realm of creating vast reality experiences is expanding through the internet, and the bar for entry is becoming more and more approachable. Although the generalization process does not seem very fast as most people are not fully integrating such technologies in their daily lives(including me), I consider the convenience of prototyping and sharing the experience patch will make the usage of technologies more popular in the late future. I have also collected some earlier approaches to making alternative reality by layering upon the existing reality as starting points of my spectrum, like Antonin Artaud’s manifesto of The Theatre and Its Double, Dircks’ Phantasmagoria, and a series of technological explorations by the pioneers in the early phases of augmented reality development.

Excerpt from Immersive Enclosure
Trying Spark AR
Myron Krueger’s early exploration of virtual reality concept in art practice

So far, I am polishing the outline of my academic paper while brainstorming the creative project; as my focus of this research is more on the creative side, I surprisingly find I also have a great interest in conducting textual analysis, and there is so much material to inspire my writing. The usage of extended reality to recreate or reinforce identities is a dynamic process of individual expression and social manipulation in which there are many exciting approaches to examine, like how VR technologies try to erase the trace of an interface in some applications and how some people prefer the unnaturalness of early RPG games than the more visually advanced games we are having now. This is a field full of controversies with many ideas intertwining, and I need to make decisions carefully by sticking to my theme and my train of thought, which is challenging but also fascinating. I have also finished an initial version of project brainstorming, but I would need to alternate it based on my technical limitation in working with creation toolkits. As for the qualitative research part, I just finished the IRB training with basic knowledge of how to maintain credentials and privacy and other stuff in conducting human-related research, and I am applying for approval of study as well as listing and revising the interview questions.

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