IMMERSIVE SIMULATION OF ALTERNATE VISUAL PERCEPTIONS
MDes Thesis Project
Harvard University, Graduate School of Design (Spring 2016)
Student: Alkistis Mavroeidi
Advisor: Panagiotis Michalatos
Concept image of Thesis project
As designers, researchers and consumers we have recently been witnessing a rise of Virtual Reality technologies, which are being used in a lot of innovating peojects, both within the walls of Gund Hall, GSD, as well as in many hotspots of innovative design all over the world. Inspired by the re-fascination of the world with pushing the limits of immersiveness, I was triggered to explore gaming environments as a way of understanding an experience otherwise impossible to human beings.
Particularly, I was interested in vision and visual phenomena, and I wanted to explore vision outside the realm of human perception. By studying first visual perception as a subjective experience, and secondly vision in other creatures, it has been approached and studied as just one of the means of perceiving a partial image of our world. Since human beings generally rely extensively on our vision, we tend forget that it is by no means a holistic image of what is happening around us, since humanity is blind to a wide range of wavelengths that other creatures can perceive, or other modes of orientation and perception.
The question that motivated this project was whether VR technologies can be used to simulate the visual world of animals, while pushing forward the limits of immersiveness and expanding our understanding of different perceptions.
WHAT IS ORATOLIPSIA
The title of the project, Oratolipsia comes from the combination of 2 greek words, orato- “visual (from the greek root “όρασις”, meaning vision) and lipsia (from the greek root “λήψις”, meaning the act of receiving). The term was created to portray the meaning of receiving a foreign visual experience onto your own consciousness.
The aim of the research has been to produce an immersive experience in the form of a game, that would alternate between animals, showing the same environment but through different eyes. By having players perceive the visual experience of different creatures, they would come closer to understanding not only the different (and all true) versions of our world, but also how each visual perception is perfected to serve particular goals as well as survival skills.
In order to achieve this goal, my research has evolved a lot around animal vision, animal movement and perception. The building environment for this project has been the game engine Unity3D, and the main tool for the creation of visual effects has been Shader scripting, using ShaderLab and Nvidia’s CG language.