Future Reality no.24 — River of Tides — How This Film is Relevant to Your VR Project (and mine)
“Art is nourishment.
And without it, I feel rootless.” — Andy Goldsworth
Scottish landscape sculptor Andy Goldsworth begins his work. In the early morning hours, the brisk air nips his nose. His steps leave deep footprints behind in the sand. The rest of the day is laid out in front of him, to create a sculpture out of the rocks lying around the sand in the beach. He tries once, twice, thrice, each rock structure collapsing from imbalance. He has to “feel” the stone and with each and every connection, each structure before it falls grows taller and taller. He tries a fourth time, and gives up. The tide is already coming in, a threat to his work.
This is just one scene in Andy Goldsworth’s documentary, Rivers and Tides. In 120 minutes you experience how this man sculpts with processes connected to nature — such as light, heat and growth. In contrast in art created in safe, internal space such as an art studio, Andy decides to do the exact opposite, with Mother Nature. To which, most of his pieces fade away with time. Rivers and Tides was captured by the documentarian, Thomas Riedelsheimer, showcasing this delicate balance between a man’s art and Mother Nature.
Andy is obsessed with the idea of flow in the the rivers, and in the land this flow takes place in. He even goes on to describe how road & transportation are flow. They affect the flow of humanity. They determine what is here to stay, and what isn’t.
In all of the physical lands he has worked worked with, he is most obsessed with his homeland’s, Scotland. Andy goes from the topic of witnessing the visceral birth of a lamb, to speaking of how the sheep as a whole represent a political-economic tool within Scotland’s history. He can look at not only an object with immaculate precision up-close, but can see its place from a high-level view of thinking. He will even go on to remark on the powerful feeling of experiencing the contrast between both the young and old in his town; children representing new beginnings and elders representing the ones who left. This feeling, Andy claims, is one forgotten in most of our lives.
The more I began watching this film, the more interesting parallels I saw surface between Rivers of Tides and Virtual Reality/360 filmmaking.
“When I make work, I often take it to the very edge of its collapse. And that’s a very beautiful balance.”
Has work within Virtual Reality, or 360 film-making, been taken to the edge of its collapse? Is this something that can be possible? Is there a way to mix both the entropy within Mother Nature and the self-containment of Virtual Reality? What do we think is possible with Virtual Reality that lies outside the scope of what we currently are accomplishing? How daring can we be with VR? How high can companies, entrepreneurs, students, artists or filmmakers use this medium to make a massive social impact on our everyday lives?
At the moment: Virtual Reality is self-contained. It does not challenge (much). It does not contain any level of entropy or randomness. It is like a teenage robot who needs an assistant to simply get out of bed in the morning to begin its day (cough cough it should not be like this ). It runs a program that we ourselves have created, and we ourselves can delete with a press of a button. Unlike Mother Nature who can disappear entire islands with the easy flow of time or a single, effect sweep of a tsunami, Virtual Reality is pretty safe. It feels safe. But what if it didn’t? What if it could cause chaos, or showcase (just as Andy’s works do), the immensity within the flow of time and space? Could it become as random as reality itself? I myself do not know the answers to these questions, but who cares? Why not take some time to think of them?
Rivers and Tides has deeply influenced my own personal work within Virtual Reality. At the moment, I am currently delving into the post-production process of a 360 film trilogy. I continue gathering inspiration for how I will be editing this piece. Ultimately, I have decided upon extrapolating both themes of water/flow and time/time-lapses intercut within three films that are 2–4 minutes in length. At the moment, I am fixing a minor technical problem with my GoPro Fusion, and afterwards shall dive right back into filming various sequences with water, color dye, paint, and landscape time-lapses. If anyone was to suggest any online 360 footage for free, please, do let me know!
Lastly, I want to use the “color key” effect in Adobe Premiere in the VR footage, and see what happens. In the second image below, you see how footage of the dancer, Odessa, can be keyed onto the image of a sky.
“Real work lies in change. And how do we understand what we have done and look at it with a fresh eye?”
P.S. “And with people, I feel drained.” This quote reflects a critical factor in Virtual reality — the idea that people want to re-charge from dealing with humans and the situation around them. People around you may very well drain you. A dear friend of mine once told me he has “social batteries,” and with certain activities, can “recharge them.” Virtual Reality is just another tool that can accomplish this, alongside other activities such as reading, writing, sketching, or spending an afternoon in solitude.