A look into a possible future using 360 VR
Spaceship Earth 2050
Currently we stand at the foot of rapid technological growth, great challenges in ecological sustainability and economic prosperity. The next 50-100 years will be crucial in determining whether humanity as a whole will succeed or fail. According to Kurzweil (2005) we are rapidly expanding toward a frontier of technology which is incomprehensible to us now. With each new technology making way for faster and better innovation, it begs the question; will our ecological systems stand up to this test. Studies show that water levels will most likely rise up by 1 meter in the coming 80 years (Jevrejeva S, 2012). Furthermore, professor Erik Brynjolfsson states that “technology is the main driver of the recent increases in inequality.” (Rotman D, 2014) which lies in accordance with Stephen Hawking's views, stating most people would end up miserably poor while the owners of technology formed the legislature around their own desires (Long H, 2015). My project lies within the center of these concerns, attempting to pull together pieces from each prominent issue and place them within a 360 environment. To do this I’ve decided to use a virtual reality device, along with photospheric techniques to fully immerse the viewer.
Vr as an industry is growing extremely rapidly, and has quickly become one of the fastest growing industries currently existing (Reith R, 2017). And according to Upwork, employers intrest in VR skillsets has shot up by 300% over the past year (Schultz C, 2017). VR is undoubtedly an extremely important skill to have however it has drawbacks. Firstly the discipline is in its infancy. Very little is known of what direction VR/AR will take, and furthermore production for VR/AR is extremely taxing on current computers meaning there’s a fairly difficult barrier of entry to overcome. Currently the industry standard in virtual reality is to create 3D environments using 3D modelling tools, and difficult CAD programs. But what about those who wish to portray an idea or an environment fairly quickly. For those without expensive computers to render away an environment all day. This issue is why I chose to not only explore VR, but also explore 2D applications within 360 environments.
Concept art has been a vital part of many industries, from game development to movie production. Prized for its ability to quickly immerse the client in a tangible idea or emotion. As stated by a prominent figure in the world of concept art, Gurmukh Bhasin “I've come to realize through the work that I do that when people feel like they can hold what you're creating or they can feel like they relate to what you're making. They look at it and it tells a story for itself.” It’s not so much that concept art aims at creating an artefact for a pre-existing narrative, but that it helps to create one by immersing the viewer in their own imagination. And so I felt this style of art was perfect for my application. I didn’t try to polish everything within my 360 painted environment, I simply attempted to represent the different elements mentioned this far, those being technology, ecology and economy. Jon Raymond believes that concept art should be a rough tool, used to explore and communicate a world or idea, allowing the viewer to craft stories within it.
In conclusion, the coming years of technological expansion will be extremely important, and offers many pitfalls which require thought and energy if they are to be overcome. My project attempts to explore these pitfalls via the combination of virtual reality and 2d concept art.
Above is the final creation from my attempts and drafts. I started by creating a perspective grid on a cube map. I then converted this into a panoramic sphere. This worked and with a few tweaks to the grid and to the technique I was able to create a 360 painting. Getting used to this sphere map distortion took quite a while but I got the hang of it in the end.