Figuring: Exploring bodies, materiality and touch in multi-person virtual reality
The Figuring Project brings together artistic, scientific, and technological expertise and practices. The project takes a dance and somatic approach to investigate what happens to moving, sensing bodies embedded in simulated virtual worlds. Dance artist and researcher Lisa May Thomas is the project artistic lead, alongside molecular physicist and Computer Scientist Dr. David Glowacki, who is the scientific and technological lead. Glowacki's collaborations with Interactive Scientific (a Bristol-based tech company which he and Phil Tew co-founded in 2013) as well as researchers at the University of Bristol, have produced a state-of-the-art cloud-mounted VR framework which enables multiple people to share, explore and interact in a virtual environment. This framework is distinct from the vast majority of VR experiences, which are solitary and sedentary.
The project brings together an experienced team of dancers, designers, digital technicians, and computational scientists, enabling an exchange of skills and knowledge between scientific and artistic practices.
Knot design by Figuring collaborator Becca Rose.
Figuring takes its name from its intention to explore ‘string figures’, which are created through simple movements of folding, looping, twisting, and knotting strings between the hands, fingers and thumbs of one or more people. They have evolved as a generational mechanism for the transmission of stories, knowledge and value systems. The aim of the Figuring project process is to transpose and re-choreograph string figures, bringing them into the dance space as physical structures for bodies to collectively move within. String figures offer a mechanism for connecting bodies like nodes within a network, enabling bodies to feel the dynamics of other bodies through space. Lisa is interested in seeing how these structures evolve, and also how they can be used to physically connect bodies which are simultaneously embedded in virtual spaces.