Monthly Archives: January 2020

Towards hMoMA Research and PhD Update

It has been over a year since my last post and a lot has happened, so its time for an update. I will now post on a frequent basis as it will evidence work I am undertaking towards my PhD ‘Making the absent object present: Towards hMoMA, a holographic Museum of Modern Art’.

My Azure Kinect handheld volumetric filming rig developed at University of the Arts Digital Maker Collective

PhD update

In January 2019, after a term into my PhD at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University London my PhD supervisors and I concluded that the initial stage of my practice based research was heavily immersive technology focused and outside the competencies of the academic staff of the University. I agreed to suspend my PhD until this first phase was completed independently and I had a museum partner where the technology could be deployed.

I intend rejoining my PhD at Kingston in October 2020 or January 2021 when this research can be deployed in a major museum. Independent research can be submitted as Prior Learning for a PhD which shortens the time for its completion. This blog and my posts on Research Gate will document my practice based technology research and my art practice which incorporates this technology.

Independent Immersive Technology Research

Collaborating Universities and Institutions

University of the Arts London where I am now a visiting practitioner and working with the UAL Digital Maker Collective led by Chris Follows, Emerging Technologies Manager for UAL Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon Colleges of Arts.

Ravensbourne University London (RAVE) where I am collaborating with their research department led by Research Director Dr Nick Lambert, and Senior Research Fellow Carl Smith.

PlayLab.Z an independent RAVE embedded immersive technology practice (formerly the development team for DoubleMe HoloPortal Lab) supported by Prof. David Crawford (also of Kent University and Director of Futures Zone at IBC Media, Entertainment and Technology Show, Amsterdam). PlayLab.Z is a Community Interest Company (CIC) with director/developers James Edward Marks, RAVE alumni Marius Matesan, Chris Szkoda and Phil Tidy, owner/executive producer of Squire Studio London. I am currently pioneering with PlayLab.Z to further develop the technology originally produced by them for DoubleMe. My role is systems architect and provider of the resources and equipment necessary for the development.

Original Outcomes

This practice based research is pioneering the development of immersive technology for deployment in education, museums and art institutions. It’s ultimate aim is to replace current in-house museum collection digitisation and display practice with portable technology that will:

  • Dramatically speed up the digitisation process. Currently collections of hundreds of thousands if not millions of artefacts take decades to volumetrically capture or photograph
  • Allow digital copies of collections to be viewed at original scale on demand in mixed or virtual reality as though they are physically present. Digital copies are currently viewed as small flat images on computer or hard copy documentation
  • Enable stored physical collections to be displayed as life-sized holograms in the museum. Currently 95%+ of collections in 55,000 major museums Worldwide are in storage and rarely if ever displayed. Exhibits in temporary exhibitions are mostly returned to contributors or imported from other national museums. Major museums seek to display their collections regionally rather than just nationally which is difficult if suitable locations have to be found and objects physically transported
  • Enable curators to be recorded as video holograms to provide real-time interpretation of combined digital and physical exhibits from around the world
  • Link volumetrically digitised collections to museum archives (archives hub). Researchers can then view artefacts on demand and as though physically present in the viewer’s real world environment. Currently, access to stored collections and archives is possible but in highly restrictive circumstances and very limited numbers
  • Create digital copies of a museum or art institution’s collection in their own dedicated archive in the Cloud. This will ensure the protection of an institution’s Intellectual Property Rights in their digitised collections as they are only available on the internet at the organisation’s sole discretion. This approach will require the deployment of 5G technology to speed upload and access

An early version for education is to be launched at Jisc DigiFest 2020 in Birmingham on 10/11th March 2020. The software branded GenieMo will be demonstrated each day by PlayLab.Z Ravensbourne University using a recently constructed portable volumetric video capture rig, and GenieMo Flow will display volumetric video in real time on Microsoft HoloLens.

PlayLab.Z will deploy the code to Github which will be free for experimentation by educators and students. Future releases will work towards the described planned outcomes for museums and galleries.

My art practice continues in parallel and is concerned with immersive storytelling and current social issues. It makes use of the immersive technology now under development with my collaboration partnerships.

During last year 2019 I was fortunate to present and demonstrate my art installation ‘The Refugees’ Crisis’ at a number of prestigious venues including Somerset House, and for the Creative Conscience Awards 2019 for which it won Gold in the Experience category This work combines a more traditional media installation (film and sculpture) with mixed reality (a holographic refugee was projected many times into the physical exhibit). This was combined with a binaurally recorded narrative in order to increase personal immersion in and empathy towards the Refugees’ Crisis, to hard hitting emotional effect.

The holographic representation of the refugee in this art installation is a work in progress towards the independent technology research I am currently undertaking.  I presented this in my presentation at the Computer Arts Society London organised EVA London 2019. This is an internationally recognised academic forum concerned with the Electronic Visualisation of the Arts. For example, Professor Oliver Grau, a World renowned academic in this field presented at an EVA conference in Germany in the same year.