VR environment built in Tiltbrush, Google Blocks and Unity 3D (2018).
Commissioned by the Building City Dashboards research group at Maynooth University, Ireland.
The artist collaboration organised by Dr. Rob Kitchin and his team at the Building City Dashboards project was an exciting challenge, exploring how to make open data interesting to audiences. During the project, I wanted to leverage the immersive medium of VR to create a space for audiences to engage with data and information on affective terms, and to construct a personal experience of the information, its sources and its expression.
The first step was to review all data sets available on the Dublin Dashboard, a website maintained by Maynooth University.
After a three-month process of sketching, data processing and literature review, I finally decided to use a record of library issues and renewals during the month of November 2016. The records revealed that in different districts of the city, readers were interested in different types of stories. The narratives weaving through readers lives and their interests were reflected in the books' titles. Some libraries issued a lot of books dealing with conflict and death, while other libraries, stories of strangers and friendships seemed more prevalent.
In the VR environment, I wanted to capture a sense of place, somewhere where the audience could contemplate on their own stories.
The ‘word clouds’ are an information narrative of readers’ choices, derived from the book titles contained in the dataset mentioned. The virtual environment created as a home for these narratives was selected from the Art in Parks register for Dublin: The Blessington Street Basin, a little-known park developed near O’Connell Street, around a disused drinking water reservoir. The park also houses a number of Austin McQuinn sculptures evoking notions of mutability and temporality, reflected both in the virtual spaces of the VR world and the objects therein.