New Cardboard App Release: First Presbyterian Church VR

First Presbyterian Church VR is a Google Cardboard app presenting the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut. A recording of the musical composition, “Coventry Carol” performed by the New York Symphonic Brass with James D. Wetherald on organ accompanies this 360-degree immersive experience.

Founded in 1854, the First Presbyterian Church commissioned noted architect Wallace K. Harrison in 1953 to design its present structure. Harrison was both a contributing architect and coordinator of such major public buildings as the United Nations, Rockefeller Center and Lincoln Center. The structure, which was completed in 1958, is thought to be one of the finest examples of religious modern architecture along with those designed by Le Corbusier, Philip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright. Its reinforced concrete and stained glass walls are formed from more than 20,000 individual chunks of inch-thick glass – a stained glass technique called “dalle de verre.” The stained glass design on the right side of the church’s sanctuary suggests the story of the crucifixion and on the left, the story of the resurrection. The stained glass in the narthex or rear of the church displays symbols of communion and peace. Although not intentional, the church’s sanctuary has been likened to the form of a fish in both profile and floor plan – a symbol used in early Christianity.

For those who are new to Google Cardboard, it is a virtual reality platform that uses a relatively low-cost cardboard or plastic viewer in conjunction with a mobile phone device to create an immersive experience.

This app works with Google Cardboard and most Android mobile phone devices. To download the app, go to: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.seththompson.FirstPresbyterianChurchVR

For more information about the Sacred Spaces of New England project, please visit: http://sacredspacesofnewengland.seththompson.info.

“Cultural Heritage and Spectacle: Painted and Digital Panoramic Re-Presentations of Versailles” Essay Published

Detail of John Vanderlyn’s Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, 1819 (top) and Detail of Google World Wonders Project (Palace and Park of Versailles), 2012 (bottom). Image capture: Seth Thompson.

Detail of John Vanderlyn’s Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, 1819 (top) and Detail of Google World Wonders Project (Palace and Park of Versailles), 2012 (bottom). Image capture: Seth Thompson.

My essay entitled, “Cultural Heritage and Spectacle: Painted and Digital Panoramic Re-Presentations of Versailles” has recently been published in Streetnotes: Ethnography, Poetry and the Documentary Experience (Volume 25).

For an overview, here’s the journal article’s abstract:

By comparing and contrasting two panoramic projects of Versailles, one being a painted panorama by John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) completed in 1819 and the other, part of Google’s World Wonders Project launched in 2012, this paper will examine the notion of heritage as a tangible entity, experiential consumable, and identity maker, and show how heritage sites and the panorama (both painted and digital) act as a spectacle that seeks to fulfill the needs and desires of its visitors to consume past and present cultural landscapes.

If you would like to read the essay, please visit:
http://escholarship.org/uc/item/339598d3

Thompson, Seth. 2016. “Cultural Heritage and Spectacle: Painted and Digital Panoramic Re-
Presentations of Versailles.” Streetnotes: Ethnography, Poetry and the Documentary Experience (Volume 25): 353-365. url: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/339598d3. Published Online: November 3, 2016.

New Cardboard App Release: Jazeera Al Hamra VR

JAH_Feature_Graphic_Web

Please check out my new Google Cardboard app entitled, Jazeera Al Hamra VR for Android mobile devices.

It is a free Google Cardboard app of the architecture of Al Jazeera Al Hamra, a former coastal village in southern Ras Al Khaimah that was abandoned at the time of the formation of the United Arab Emirates in the late 1960s and 1970s. It is considered one of the last traditional towns in the country.

Featured in version 1.0 of the Jazeera Al Hamra VR app are 360-degree VR (virtual reality) panoramic images that were captured between 2009 and 2011 of the hisn (fort) and three courtyard homes.

For those who are new to Google Cardboard, it is a virtual reality platform that uses a relatively low-cost cardboard or plastic viewer in conjunction with a mobile phone device to create an immersive experience.

This app works with Google Cardboard and most Android mobile phone devices. Here’s the link to the app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.seththompson.JazeeraAlHamraVR.

New Google Cardboard VR Title Release

Please check out my new Google Cardboard VR app entitled, “Four New England Churches VR” for Android mobile devices.

Four New England Churches VR” is a free Google Cardboard VR app of four Episcopal church sanctuaries from my online project, Sacred Spaces of New England.

For those who are new to Google Cardboard, it is a virtual reality platform that uses a relatively low-cost cardboard or plastic viewer in conjunction with a mobile phone device to create an immersive experience.

Here’s a link to the app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.SethThompson.SSNE_Episcopal_Churches

Lecture at the 24th IPC International Panorama Conference: “Cultural Heritage Through the Lens of the Panorama: Painted and Digital Panoramic Re-Presentations of Versailles”

Recently, I presented my paper entitled,”Cultural Heritage Through the Lens of the Panorama: Painted and Digital Panoramic Re-Presentations of Versailles” at the 24th IPC International Panorama Conference in Namur, Belgium, September 9-12, 2015.

Below is the paper’s abstract:

Since the advent of the painted panorama in the late 18th century, one of the goals for many panorama artists has been to faithfully depict the cultural landscape. The themes for the panorama have ranged from re-presenting locations such as Versailles, Salzburg and The Hague to events such as the Battle of Gettysburg. With the advent of computer technology and comprehensive data capture such as vr panoramic photography, video and scanning technologies, the notion of the panorama offers renewed opportunities in the re-presentation, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage. For example, Google’s World Wonders Project, which was launched in 2012, is a platform to showcase world heritage sites. Utilizing Google technologies such as Street View, which provides street level panoramic views along various paths to simulate the notion of exploring a place, the World Wonders Project offers an alternative experience of visiting world heritage sites from the ancient temples of Kyoto to Pompeii. By comparing and contrasting two panoramic projects of Versailles, one being a painted panorama by John Vanderlyn completed in 1819 and the other, which is part of Google’s World Wonders Project, this paper will attempt to address such questions as: What is the purpose of heritage and how is it used? Is the re-presentation of heritage different in the digital versus the painted panorama? Has the notion of depicting cultural heritage changed since the 19th century? The paper will conclude with practical, useful recommendations to inform current and future initiatives in developing panoramic imaging projects for the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage.

If you would like to download the conference program, please go to:
http://panoramacouncil.org/pics/files/documents/2015_Namur_program.pdf

If you would like to download the conference abstracts and speakers’ biographies, please go to:
http://panoramacouncil.org/pics/files/documents/2015_Namur_Abstracts_and_biographies_speakers.pdf

Conference paper will be posted at a later date.

Keywords: Painted Panorama, Cultural Heritage, Versailles, John Vanderlyn, Google’s World Wonders Project

Lecture at ISEA 2015: “VR Panoramic Photography and Hypermedia: Drawing from the Panorama’s Past”

isea_image

Recently, I presented my paper entitled,”VR Panoramic Photography and Hypermedia: Drawing from the Panorama’s Past” at the 21st International Symposium of Electronic Art (a.k.a. ISEA 2015) in Vancouver, Canada.

Below is the paper’s abstract:

Since the 1787 patent of the immersive 360-degree painted panorama by Robert Barker, the panorama has been used as a narrative storytelling tool. With VR (virtual reality) panoramic photography in tandem with the notion of hypermedia, the VR panorama can further advance the idea of storytelling as both an object and an interface. Using the principles of Robert Barker’s patent of the panorama as a point of departure to explore the conceptual relationship between painted and screen-based panoramas, this paper will explore: how the potential for a hypermedia system can be found in the painted panorama; the unique qualities of the computer-based panorama; and discuss related hardware advances for the digital panorama, which appear to bring us closer to Robert Barker’s original intent as an immersive image space for the masses.

If you would like to download the conference paper, please go to:
http://isea2015.org/proceeding/submissions/ISEA2015_submission_46.pdf

Thompson, Seth. “VR Panoramic Photography and Hypermedia: Drawing from the Panorama’s Past.” In Proceedings of the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Vancouver, Canada, August 14-19, 2015. ISSN: 2451-8611 ISBN: 978-1- 910172-00-1.

Keywords: VR Panoramic Photography, Hypermedia, Narrative, Painted Panorama, Immersive Image Spaces

“Steve Sabella: Independence” Exhibition Review

My review of the exhibition, “Steve Sabella: Independence”, which was on view (October 26–December 6, 2014) at Meem Gallery in Dubai may be found in the March/April 2015 issue of Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism.

Independence 9 from the series Independence (2013) by Steve Sabella; courtesy Meem Gallery.

Independence 9 from the series Independence (2013) by Steve Sabella;
courtesy Meem Gallery.

Here is an excerpt from the review:

“In the Middle East, one’s identity is often defined by a passport. When someone mentions a country or place, a mental image of that location and its people is frequently constructed. In much of his work, Steve Sabella has questioned this construction, which is built by time and memory, as identity is much more complex than it appears.

Born in Jerusalem, Sabella, who often considers the plight and struggle of the Palestinian people within his work, had at first glance appeared to deviate from this course when he created his Independence series, a body of photographic works realized in 2013. The exhibition at Meem Gallery consisted of seventeen deliberately grainy images of figures floating in an abyss-like sea of blackened water. The bodies are distorted and ambiguous and could even be described as painterly, as their representation within the water appears almost to be created with gestural brush strokes. The images were bonded directly onto acrylic sheets using the diasec process, which give the two-dimensional photographs a sheen-like quality…”

From Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts & Cultural Criticism (42, no. 5), page 30. For the full article, please visit vsw.org/afterimage/back-issues/ or subscribe to Afterimage at vsw.org/afterimage/subscribe/.

“Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception” Exhibition Review

Shadow for Heisenberg (1993-1994) by Jim Campbell

Shadow for Heisenberg (1993-1994) by Jim Campbell

My review of the exhibition, “Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception”, which was on view (March 21–June 15, 2014) at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City may be found on the Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism website.

Here is an excerpt from the review:

“Contemplative” and “reflective” are fitting identifiers in describing the engaging exhibition “Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception” at the Museum of the Moving Image, organized by guest curator Steve Dietz. Featuring over twenty media projects, including electronic installations and low-resolution video works that span almost thirty years of production, this was San Francisco-based Campbell’s first museum show in New York City. From a quick glance at the exhibition, one could have discounted it as mere formal artistic explorations of technology and light. However, Campbell’s work offers much more…”

Read the full review at: http://vsw.org/afterimage/2014/06/30/exhibition-review-rhythms-of-perception-by-jim-campbell/

It’s a Jungle Out There with this Google Street View Mod

Street View of My Home Using Urban Jungle Street View


Street View of My Home Using Urban Jungle Street View

Reminiscent of Thomas Cole’s painting, The Course of Empire: Desolation (1836), Sweden-based developer Einar Öberg has created a very clever Google Street View modification entitled, Urban Jungle Street View. However, the sombre apocalyptic tone of Cole’s painting is replaced with amusement and mayhem in the case of Öberg’s quirky project, as it allows you to select anyplace available in Street View and see it in his jungle mode.

Öberg states on his website, “This experiment [is] using an undocumented part of Street View, the depth data. With that a depth map and a normal map is generated, which can be used in the shaders and to plot geometry and sprites in (almost) the correct position in 3d space.”

It should be noted that Öberg warns on Twitter that he is “Breaking [Google’s] terms of use like it’s no tomorrow”, so check out your home or favorite place at: http://inear.se/urbanjungle/ before it possibly comes down. Intentional or not, this is a definite piece of Internet-based art.

Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Desolation, 1836


Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Desolation (1836)

Analog immersive environments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Two works of art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio” (1478–82) designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and “Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles” (1818-19) painted by John Vanderlyn are excellent pieces to be used in the evolving construction of the history of media art puzzle. Both of these works create an artificial realm that integrates the observer in a 360-degree immersive environment utilizing illusion and space to give the viewer the impression of being at a location—both real and imagined.

Detail of "Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles" (1818-19)

Detail of “Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles” (1818-19) by John Vanderlyn. Retrieved from: http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/20013426

 

John Vanderlyn’s “Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles“, which measures 12 x 165 feet (circumference) presenting a circular panoramic view of the grounds of the French royal palace, is one of the earliest American panorama paintings known to have survived in its entirety. Using curvilinear perspective, the painting’s intent was to give patrons the illusion of being in the midst of Versailles. Placing himself in the painting, Vanderlyn can be seen pointing to Czar Alexander I and King Frederick William II of Prussia near the Basin de Latone.

Detail of "Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio" (1478–82)

Detail of “Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio” (1478–82) designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/120013532

Francesco di Giorgio Martini’s “Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio” utilizes a perspectival wood-inlay technique to create a virtual space of a sixteen by twelve foot study or library that displays a stunning array of objects—from musical instruments to astronomical tools to armor and insignia—meaningful to the duke of Urbino, Federico de Montefeltro for whom this was created. Intended as a place for meditation and study, the coherent perspectival design of its paneling along with the dramatic use of light and shadow, creates a unified space that is immediately understood by the viewer—creating an illusion of a place in time.

Both of these works may be found in the Museum’s permanent gallery exhibition spaces.

References:

Metropolitan Museum of Art. (No Date). Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio. (Retrieved on September 11, 2012 from http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/120013532).

Metropolitan Museum of Art. (No Date). Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. (Retrieved on September 11, 2012 from http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/20013426).

Raggio, O., Wilmering, A. (1996). The Liberal Arts Studiolo from the Ducal Palace at Gubbio. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Spring 1996. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Vanderlyn, J., Ten Eyck Gardner, A., Majewski, L. (1956). The panoramic view of the palace and gardens of Versailles painted by John Vanderlyn : the original sketches of which were taken at the spot, by him, in the autumn of 1814. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.