The Degradation of Visual and Audio Art and Music

How can VR and 5G come together to showcase the South-West as a prominent future thinking, creative tech hub?

What did the project involve? 

This project was a collaboration of creative tech innovators in the South West led by Simple Things and working with one of the most boundary-pushing artists in electronic music Aisha Devi and their visual artist Emile Barret. This involved the launch of a new creative tech hub and an event to showcase the South-West as a prominent future thinking, creative tech hub that will bring international speakers, visual artists, scientists and audiences to collectively investigate the current parameters of creative technology, the future, and how it can be presented to a wider audience in a festival format.

The team worked with Aisha to create a visual and audio piece which was to be experienced in Virtual Reality at Simple Things 2019. It was one extended song to create a 5-8 minute experience. 15 people at a time experienced the performance together while wearing VR headsets

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Zubr is one of the UK’s top studios for augmented and virtual reality innovation and will be charged with creating the experience, mapping Aisha Devi and blending her visuals with the aforementioned mapping.  They work for agencies, digital marketing, events, and industry specialists. They also work for heritage, tourism, culture, education and artists.
  • Smart Internet Lab (University of Bristol) is a hub for internet research which addresses grant societal and industrial challenges. We perform cutting edge research on optical and wireless communications and offer a unique holistic approach to hardware and software co-design, solving critical problems in the global internet evolution. We are world leaders in 5G convergence research and have deployed 5G capability in Bristol city centre focusing on the convergence of fibre infrastructure and 5G wireless access. The University of Bristol’s 5GUK Test Network is the UK’s first urban 5G End-to-End Testbed
  • Simple Things (Crack Magazine and Team Love) is a respected and forward-facing festival in the UK. Their ambition was to further develop it into one of the leading CreaTech Music festivals in the world. The South-West’s status as a hotbed for new technology and the creative industries, combined with Simple Things’ reputation for pushing innovation, current music and creative presentation provided an opportunity to build an state of the art event.
  • Aisha Devi and Emile Barret for eight and a half years, Aïsha Devi and her label has helped create space for the radical underground, bringing critical infrastructure to experimental artists who have sat on the fringes of the electronic music industry. Emile Barret is an experimental artist and photographer whose works attempt to confront viewers with their own knowledge by questioning systems of learning.

What were the results?

The experience allows a group of guests wearing VR headsets and headphones to get lost within a 10-metre virtual space, alongside the holographic capture of Devi herself. Individual instrument tracks from the featured music piece are scattered around the environment, making the music sound different from every position; whilst guests can playfully interact with each other through their virtual avatar alter-egos. Viewers will collectively experience this 3D performance through innovative a mixed reality technology, developed with AR specialists Pussykrew and Zubr. The Swiss-Nepalese Electronic music artist leads the ritual-like audio experience through her holographic persona, whilst each participant assumes the virtual form of an anthropomorphic character.

The application utilises Smart Internet Lab’s 5GUK Test Network, the UK’s first urban large scale 5G End-to-End Testbed for Digital Innovation. The University’s Smart Internet Lab has pioneered research on 5G technologies, and experiments on its 5GUK Test Network, delivering international and national impact.

Prof. Dimitra Simeonidou noted: ‘The testbed offers dynamic end-to-end slicing and orchestration over heterogeneous wired and wireless networks, enabling the testing of novel applications, like the one enabling Aïsha Devi’s hologram. We are very excited to collaborate with such a wide range of partners, delivering another unique experience in the city of Bristol’.

Prof. Tim Cole of Social History and Director of Brigstow Institute stated: “This piece grew out of something that Brigstow loves to do: bring academics from different disciplines together with creatives to explore an idea by making something new.”