PlaySFMOMA Mixed Reality Pop-Up Arcade

In March of 2017, I worked with SFMOMA to develop a day-long “blended reality” pop-up arcade.The PlaySFMOMA pop-up featured experimental games exploring augmented, virtual, shared, fractured, blended, and otherwise mixed realities. This event not only presented emerging augmented and virtual reality technologies, but also showcases exciting new work exploring what it means when realities collide.

This project was particularly exciting for me because it gave us the opportunity to road-test some nascent technologies in the exhibition space, including mobile AR, VR headsets, and AI. Working with early-stage technology means that only one thing is for certain: the technology will break. Once you’ve accepted this reality, it’s easier to embrace that these technologies are dynamic, complicated and exciting–and unpredictable. This was my first time working with actors as mediators of these technologies. I find that actors can improvise and “localize” their performances to individual attendees, so even when hardware doesn’t operate the way it’s supposed to, performers can “fill in the gaps” and provide an interesting exhibition experience and moment of connection with audience-members.

Legibility is a core component of my practice, especially when it comes to works created with technology. While a lot of tech professionals might see a new technology demonstrated on a convention Expo floor, my practice is focused on everyday people (so not necessarily art experts or tech professionals). It’s important that my work engage these audiences because I want more voices involved in the ongoing conversations about how emerging technologies shape our current and future lives. So while AR and VR technologies are still working out some functional kinks, the Mixed Reality Pop-Up was an important moment for me and my colleagues at SFMMOMA to share some of our inquiries with the public at-large.

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