Temporal Lines: Spiralling Time in the Non-Space of VR

Jorge Rivera and Ryan Stec

Atmospheres 10 – Fabrications (2018)

Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba

The leaders of the third wave of ‘Virtual Reality’ developments are obsessively pursuing a detailed synthesis of reality as we see it. Many producers of this synthetic reality believe they will have soon built a permanent bridge across the uncanny valley to a new shore, where the perceptual boundary between synthetic and material reality is impossible to determine. This passionate push to reach the other side misses, perhaps, some of the more interesting things in the valley below. Temporal Lines descends into the uncanny valley to experiment with the ‘immersive space’ of VR and develop new understandings of this representational technology, specifically by playing with disconnect of the embodied experience of the material world and the visual perception of non-space.

Temporal Lines begins with a table and chair in the material world. An audience of one sits at the table, where there is a collection of domestic objects, a metal knob and a VR headset for them to wear. Once wearing the headset they find the identical table and objects represented in the headset. The metal knob (in the material world) can be turned in either direction. As it turns the representation is transformed. The effect on the representation by the looping of the knob is mediated by algorithm pulling the transformation on a spiralling arc, circling without arriving at the same place.

Combining digital and analogue drawing with photography, photogrammetry and game design, Temporal Lines is exploratory spiral centered around a table. The table is a hinge between two things, one is a space and the other a non-space. The body is in a space of the body separated from visual perception by the non-space of the VR headset. Sitting at the table, the circular knob in space is wound (in either direction) and a spiral of time unfolds in the non-space. The objects form, reform and deform as their position in the perspectival non-space shifts along the path of a perpetually unfolding spiral.