Rosie Summers

Architects of the virtual space

Rosie Summers
Architects of the virtual space

I had the pleasure of taking part in the Megaverse XR theatre lab this summer as a virtual reality artist. I was witness to performers, developers, all of us artists from a variety of disciplines, coming together as architects of the virtual space. That was one of the most powerful things I took from the lab, the creation of space. My eyes were opened to new ways of existing in and creating virtual realities.

I was stood in a green space, staring ahead to see my virtual self-inside a game engine. Meanwhile, someone inside a VR headset looks at me and believes I’m there with them, in this whole other world, when I’m physically still stood in that green space. Revolutionising the way we embody virtual worlds and experience performance. There was a moment when someone in the headset was having a conversation with another person’s virtual self, but the virtual self was giant and towering over them, causing the person in VR to back away slightly and creating a whole wave of emotions which was mesmerising to watch. Distorting the performers virtual selves dramatically shaped the whole story of the experience, which was fascinating.

I was so happy to be able to help create these spaces for the performers to virtually exist inside, using tilt brush. The room was flowing with creativity, artists were performing, developers were building and I was painting away, but we were all in the same creative flow, it was magical. Because of this and the looming deadline to create our experience, things were so fast paced and experimental. This meant that when I was creating the spaces, my brief from the director and performers would consist of random words, straight from their bubbling creative minds, which was a completely new way of working, it was so freeing and I loved it. I would sketch worlds really rapidly around these single prompts. I loved it that much it inspired my later work, taking on Inktober in VR, creating worlds daily around single one word prompts.

What was created in the lab in a matter of days was so amazing.. and it seemed to end on a cliffhanger! The collaboration of theatre and XR is powerful, enough to study a PhD with, there is so much more to be had! For the future I see potential to harmonise those two worlds, the virtual and the physical. Dressing the physical set as well as the virtual, maybe even moulding a virtual space around a physical space, so when you interact with virtual objects you are also holding the physical representations. I am also interested in the future role of the person in VR, seeing them take on more active roles in the performance for example, it would be so interesting what comes from that! So many realities to explore.