HKU teachers and employees attended several events and festivals in October and November. Below they give a short impression.

TodaysArt

TodaysArt is a multidisciplinary art festival where contemporary art, music and technology come together. The 14th edition took place from 21 to 23 September at 11 (public) locations in The Hague.

Martijn van Gessel (Lecturer HKU Music and Technology, Expertise Center Creative Technology): “The scale of the festival certainly makes it interesting for students to visit it. Compared to the similar, but much larger Sonar in Barcelona iet’s easier to meet up with the makers. The festival is also much more diverse in what it offers.”

TodaysArt: Opportunities for HKU

“This year, a space was created in which work was showcased by (our competitor) ArtEZ’s 2nd-year students Interaction Design. HKU would also be able to show work like this. The first contacts with TodaysArt have already been made by a number of HKU employees, so this process is underway.”

*View the programme here *Read a review by the organization

VR Days in Amsterdam

Job van Nuenen (Teacher Image and Media Technology at HKU Media) visited the [VR days] (https://vrdays.co). These took place from October 24 to 26 in Amsterdam. There was a ‘trading floor’ that mainly focused on commercial applications: many virtual shop designers, gaze tracking (tracking what someone looks at) for store optimization, virtual meeting environments and hardware suppliers.

Job: “One of the most interesting things for me here was VUZE’s new camera, a device that can work 360 degrees and 180 degrees stereoscopically. This would be a great tool for students to experiment on one device with two different techniques. The technical quality of the camera seemed pretty good in the demos. It also has a solid build quality, essential when lending such a device to students.

Good to mention is that the largest eye-catcher on entry was a large container of the Army. This was advertised as ‘VR escape room’, but it was in fact a ‘normal’ 360-degree film of a real-life military exercise viewable by twelve visitors per session using GearVR headsets.

In my opinion, this film was far too much like a regular film, so I was thrown back and forth like a madman between ‘first person’ field of view and establishing shots. A good example of how the producers of the film did not sufficiently take into account the experience of the viewer when he/she themselves can determine the viewing direction.”

Virtual Reality and Hygiene

Aaron Oostdijk, lecturer in game development, discovered during the VR Days an essential device for an institute that works a lot with VR: the Cleanbox. It lets you clean VR headsets with UV radiation treatment.

This kills bacteria that unavoidably collects on equipment that is put on the noses o many different people. Aaron: “If you do not clean sets properly, students run a real chance of getting infections. Just like a swimming pool needs chlorine, in my opinion this is just something we need to have.”

The VR Church

Job van Nuenen: “In one of the aisles the VR church was set up, where a lot of artistic / independent work was shown through HTC Vive hardware in small, separated rooms. For example, there were two Film Academy graduates with their co-op VR Game “Floaty Flatmates”. There was too much to see in one day, you can find an overview here

The VR Church was tucked away in a corner somewhere and it was difficult to determine what work you should focus on. A lot of the rooms were continuously occupied and I found it unclear how much time you were allowed to spend on certain works. Too bad, because the quality of the displayed works was very high! It tasted like more.”

Also interesting: the Sense Glove, a new VR glove that communicates pressure sensitivity.

VR Days: Opportunities for HKU

“For students who want to get serious about this subject, VR days 2018 offered a good overview of technical possibilities. It gave a reasonable ‘benchmark’ of what is being done in 360 films and VR. Enough content to critically reflect on and discuss with a group of students.”

Good to know: there will also be a new festival in Hamburg: VRHam! Virtual Reality & Arts Festival. The Creative Technology Expertise Center will find out if and how it may be interesting for HKU to be (actively) present.

Photos TodaysArt: Maurice Mikkers. Stills VR Days from here.