With their newest work, "Concrete Storm," debuting at the Armory Show in New York this week, Amsterdam artist collective Studio Drift isn't limiting themselves to virtual reality, augmented reality, or holograms. They're dealing in all three.
The new project from Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, the duo who make up Studio Drift, came about when they were tapped by art start-up Artsy to use the Microsoft HoloLens in the creation of a new artwork. The Hololens is a new gadget that allows you to create an immersive world (virtual reality) featuring projections of information on real-life objects (augmented reality), and hang out with three-dimensional objects or characters that you can interact with and change (holograms). The sum total is called mixed reality.
What Is Life Like in Mixed Reality?
With a mixed reality art piece, the world is your canvas. "In the real world, your imagination is limited by the fact that you need to engineer and build your design," says the Studio Drift duo. "In the digital world, almost everything is possible, and we wonder what will happen once these boundaries of reality fade."
There might come a day when reality becomes completely mixed, and we'll all be wearing special glasses or contacts to interact with computers, read books, and visit with friends who live in other states or countries. "These realities will create the possibility to either totally submerge yourself into the mind of an artist, or see his or her—or 'its,' let's not forget where AI is going—ideas mixed within your own house or neighborhood," says Studio Drift.
You'll Never Experience Art the Same Way Again
Art has always been about telling stories, tricking the eye, and aspiring to make sense of the every day. The mixed reality that Studio Drift is creating with "Concrete Storm" once again challenges the human perception of art, how it's made, and the tangibility of an object versus an experience.
PQ "We are constantly looking for ways to pull people out of their daily routine, surprise them, and make them wonder." —Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of Studio Drift PQ
What Concrete Storm Is Like
As soon as you put on the HoloLens goggles (they look and feel like a magnifying glass crossed with a pair of Ray-Bans), a small rectangle comes into view—one that lets you see into this other reality. In the center of the space you find four two-foot-tall square concrete pillars that appear to have been snapped off, due to the unevenness of their surfaces. As I look up from these pillars that are grounded on the floor in real life, I see a much longer concrete pillar—the missing piece—floating just above as a hologram within this space. Hovering around this augmented broken pillar are small shards of concrete flying out from the breaking point. But, everything is calm, floating slowly, nothing seems as if it would fall, it's all suspended nicely in this other space.
"Our work is always intended to create a feeling of disbelief," says Studio Drift. "We are constantly looking for ways to pull people out of their daily routine, surprise them, and make them wonder. In 'Concrete Storm' we transform the static hard world we live in to behave like a part of nature." Studio Drift adds that they are interested to see viewers move and shake their heads while experiencing the work—a different reality means using your body differently to understand what you're witnessing.
"We came up with this concept by dreaming about it—literally."
"We came up with this concept by dreaming about it—literally," says Studio Drift. "We have no idea if it will work for the people who come to see it at the Armory Show. But we are excited about mixing the real word with our digital fantasy."
For more on Studio Drift's work, check out studiodrift.com.