From left to right: Alice Wroe (XR Lead, Atlantic Institute), Dana Walrath (Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health), Nasser Elderoos (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Dylan Vally (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Sarah Summers (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Indu Balachandran (Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity), Danielle Woods (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Richard Smith (XR Specialist, Atlantic Institute).

XR Residency: Binding Beyond the Physical Present

By

By Indu Balachandran, Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity

November 30, 2023

This blog is a memory, a gift to the Atlantic Fellows, and an invitation to all of us to reach into the fellowship and participate in the community that is happening between us.

Make sure you take every opportunity to get yourselves into our XR lab with ideas, trust Alice and Richard, work with different Fellows (whom you know and whom others know) and have a go.

The XR residency was an experiment by Atlantic Institute’s XR Lead Alice Wroe, who is trying ways to enliven the Fellows in tech. Alice is a gift to our ecology. The residency was an experiment in learning and co-creating. It was also an experiment in caring engagement - with each other, with technology, with Institute staff, and our Fellowship.

"I went with no expectations and grounded myself with curiosity. I had no idea I would be introduced to a new (literal) universe of possibilities in experiential empathy." Danielle Woods, AFRE

There were six of us in this experiment in Fellows experimenting with and learning about the XR Lab and co-creating wherever possible. The framing for the residency was to bring different perspectives of equity to enlivening technology and exploring how demanding subjects like genocide might be addressed through new technologies. Whilst this frame enabled a loose curation of Fellows, so much more came to be. Most of us only knew one or two out of the six participants; the rest was a leap of trust.

The Technical Term

 

The Meaning of It

3D structured light scanner by Einscan

 

Scanning the image in 3D and interacting with each other via objects that embodied our care

360 degree film (largely made by fellows) – “fish eye” lens which makes you feel like you’re in it

 

Being immersed in Indigenous understanding

Being part of “occupation” for social housing

Co-creating a film of a veena (music) performance

Engaging with graphic animation as a tool for stories of violence

GoBe Robot – TV on a moving “robot”

 

Meeting a filmmaker (also a Fellow) who virtually “came into” our circle

Unreal Engine 5 and their metahuman platform – scanning a person’s face and expressions!

 

Watching one of us Fellows becoming a virtual person on screen, and journeying with them through the weirdness of it

Magic Leap Augmented Reality headset

 

Engaging via a headset with music, images, and 3D landscape which feels “overlayed” into the present environment

AR Mobile based app to bring us into the Atlantic narratives

 

A folding, hexagonal origami sheet, through which we could experience a visual story from each Atlantic program through scanning a QR code

3D room-scale scene with Unreal Engine 5 and Meta Quest Pro controllers

 

Being in a 3D immersive scene, via headset, interacting with our objects of care

Watching a 360 film, Dylan being scanned by Richard in a MetaHumans session, the scanned 3D objects, Myriam Hernández (Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity) on the GoBe screen.

I re-read an article “Will AI become the new McKinsey” (By Ted Chiang, New Yorker, 4 May 2023) as I start writing this blog, shared by a Fellow who has brought many strands of understanding into my life. She is one of many such Fellows who have become part of my being. As that article pertinently asks:

“how do we keep those technologies from working as “capital’s willing executioners”?

The real questions for me were: how do Fellows exist and sustain the paradigm of care that is vital to equitable futures? And how can technologies enable or deepen this?

So, let’s start with basics. Extended reality (XR) is a catch-all term to refer to augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR). All XR tech takes the human-to-PC screen interface and modifies it, either by

  1. immersing you in the virtual environment (VR),
  2. adding to, or augmenting, the user’s surroundings (AR), or
  3. both of those (MR).

I was laughing when I copied this from the internet into this article because it did not have meaning until I was immersed in this stuff in the lab. And even after Richard Smith (our wonderful XR Specialist) sent me the list of technologies the following week, I had to remember the stories they held to really remember their power.

A still from a 360 film, distorted due to the spherical projection of 360 film. We hope you can view the film on VR headset soon!

”To live in fellowship, moving through and beyond the tips of our knowledge, across the vast extended realities of this residency, is an indefinitely profound experience. At the last moments of a global turning point, right before the veils of western power were dropped, we were in communion. This interdimensional travel was guided and shared in love and thoughtfulness. It has meant many worlds to me. I look forward to witnessing how this experience unravels and reweaves us in all that is upcoming. My gratitude is held in the many manifestations that will continue to emerge from my and our collective body.” Sarah Summers, AFRE

Of course, the bonds between us – which is the foundation of our Fellowship – flourish more and more in the moments between. The sharing of that wonderful home for Fellows in Oxford (Kopanong), cooking collective meals, walks through Oxford, cycling shenanigans in the rain, a minibus trip to London like a school excursion, the frantic search for toilets, hunting for the best Portuguese tarts, quiet breakfasts in the kitchen bathed in morning light.

It is not easy to bring six people into an XR Lab, throw technology at them, and provoke considered thought and ideation. But it is possible within the Atlantic Fellowship. It relies on our individual and collective ability to be gift-givers and gift-receivers. And it is possible because we are conscious that the relationship between people, tools and purpose is constant work of alignment and love.

"The intimacy of Explore Week—from the womb-like room of the XR lab to cooking, sleeping, laughing, and creating together in the full global beauty of Kopanong—allowed us to build the trust required to take a deep critical dive into the dangerous territory of this new technology.  Listening, absolute presence, and the experiential nature of our time together let us know each other in ways that go beyond the usual intellectual encounter to the enduring bonds of the heart. I emerged from the week overwhelmed with gratitude for the beauty and power of our time together and for the incredible curation by Alice and Richard which have fortified me to continue my work to end genocide and to co-create a (k)new world order." Dana Walrath, GBHI

Make sure you take every opportunity to get yourselves into our XR lab with ideas, trust Alice and Richard, work with different Fellows (whom you know and whom others know) and have a go. It is critical that Atlantic Fellows become not just literate in XR but develop proficiency in making it work for equity. A few of us non-experts-in-technology are certainly having a go, with some ideas in motion already. As that article aptly notes:

“Remember that the golden age of capitalism came after the enormous wealth inequality of the Gilded Age. Right now we’re living in a second Gilded Age, in which wealth inequality is about the same as it was back in 1913…..The task before us is to imagine ways for technology to move us toward a golden age without bringing about another Great Depression first.”

No items found.
01

photo gallery

02

TESTIMONIES

01

No items found.

Related articles

XR Residency: Binding Beyond the Physical Present

By

By Indu Balachandran, Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity

From left to right: Alice Wroe (XR Lead, Atlantic Institute), Dana Walrath (Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health), Nasser Elderoos (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Dylan Vally (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Sarah Summers (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Indu Balachandran (Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity), Danielle Woods (Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity), Richard Smith (XR Specialist, Atlantic Institute).

This blog is a memory, a gift to the Atlantic Fellows, and an invitation to all of us to reach into the fellowship and participate in the community that is happening between us.

Make sure you take every opportunity to get yourselves into our XR lab with ideas, trust Alice and Richard, work with different Fellows (whom you know and whom others know) and have a go.

The XR residency was an experiment by Atlantic Institute’s XR Lead Alice Wroe, who is trying ways to enliven the Fellows in tech. Alice is a gift to our ecology. The residency was an experiment in learning and co-creating. It was also an experiment in caring engagement - with each other, with technology, with Institute staff, and our Fellowship.

"I went with no expectations and grounded myself with curiosity. I had no idea I would be introduced to a new (literal) universe of possibilities in experiential empathy." Danielle Woods, AFRE

There were six of us in this experiment in Fellows experimenting with and learning about the XR Lab and co-creating wherever possible. The framing for the residency was to bring different perspectives of equity to enlivening technology and exploring how demanding subjects like genocide might be addressed through new technologies. Whilst this frame enabled a loose curation of Fellows, so much more came to be. Most of us only knew one or two out of the six participants; the rest was a leap of trust.

The Technical Term

 

The Meaning of It

3D structured light scanner by Einscan

 

Scanning the image in 3D and interacting with each other via objects that embodied our care

360 degree film (largely made by fellows) – “fish eye” lens which makes you feel like you’re in it

 

Being immersed in Indigenous understanding

Being part of “occupation” for social housing

Co-creating a film of a veena (music) performance

Engaging with graphic animation as a tool for stories of violence

GoBe Robot – TV on a moving “robot”

 

Meeting a filmmaker (also a Fellow) who virtually “came into” our circle

Unreal Engine 5 and their metahuman platform – scanning a person’s face and expressions!

 

Watching one of us Fellows becoming a virtual person on screen, and journeying with them through the weirdness of it

Magic Leap Augmented Reality headset

 

Engaging via a headset with music, images, and 3D landscape which feels “overlayed” into the present environment

AR Mobile based app to bring us into the Atlantic narratives

 

A folding, hexagonal origami sheet, through which we could experience a visual story from each Atlantic program through scanning a QR code

3D room-scale scene with Unreal Engine 5 and Meta Quest Pro controllers

 

Being in a 3D immersive scene, via headset, interacting with our objects of care

Watching a 360 film, Dylan being scanned by Richard in a MetaHumans session, the scanned 3D objects, Myriam Hernández (Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity) on the GoBe screen.

I re-read an article “Will AI become the new McKinsey” (By Ted Chiang, New Yorker, 4 May 2023) as I start writing this blog, shared by a Fellow who has brought many strands of understanding into my life. She is one of many such Fellows who have become part of my being. As that article pertinently asks:

“how do we keep those technologies from working as “capital’s willing executioners”?

The real questions for me were: how do Fellows exist and sustain the paradigm of care that is vital to equitable futures? And how can technologies enable or deepen this?

So, let’s start with basics. Extended reality (XR) is a catch-all term to refer to augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR). All XR tech takes the human-to-PC screen interface and modifies it, either by

  1. immersing you in the virtual environment (VR),
  2. adding to, or augmenting, the user’s surroundings (AR), or
  3. both of those (MR).

I was laughing when I copied this from the internet into this article because it did not have meaning until I was immersed in this stuff in the lab. And even after Richard Smith (our wonderful XR Specialist) sent me the list of technologies the following week, I had to remember the stories they held to really remember their power.

A still from a 360 film, distorted due to the spherical projection of 360 film. We hope you can view the film on VR headset soon!

”To live in fellowship, moving through and beyond the tips of our knowledge, across the vast extended realities of this residency, is an indefinitely profound experience. At the last moments of a global turning point, right before the veils of western power were dropped, we were in communion. This interdimensional travel was guided and shared in love and thoughtfulness. It has meant many worlds to me. I look forward to witnessing how this experience unravels and reweaves us in all that is upcoming. My gratitude is held in the many manifestations that will continue to emerge from my and our collective body.” Sarah Summers, AFRE

Of course, the bonds between us – which is the foundation of our Fellowship – flourish more and more in the moments between. The sharing of that wonderful home for Fellows in Oxford (Kopanong), cooking collective meals, walks through Oxford, cycling shenanigans in the rain, a minibus trip to London like a school excursion, the frantic search for toilets, hunting for the best Portuguese tarts, quiet breakfasts in the kitchen bathed in morning light.

It is not easy to bring six people into an XR Lab, throw technology at them, and provoke considered thought and ideation. But it is possible within the Atlantic Fellowship. It relies on our individual and collective ability to be gift-givers and gift-receivers. And it is possible because we are conscious that the relationship between people, tools and purpose is constant work of alignment and love.

"The intimacy of Explore Week—from the womb-like room of the XR lab to cooking, sleeping, laughing, and creating together in the full global beauty of Kopanong—allowed us to build the trust required to take a deep critical dive into the dangerous territory of this new technology.  Listening, absolute presence, and the experiential nature of our time together let us know each other in ways that go beyond the usual intellectual encounter to the enduring bonds of the heart. I emerged from the week overwhelmed with gratitude for the beauty and power of our time together and for the incredible curation by Alice and Richard which have fortified me to continue my work to end genocide and to co-create a (k)new world order." Dana Walrath, GBHI

Make sure you take every opportunity to get yourselves into our XR lab with ideas, trust Alice and Richard, work with different Fellows (whom you know and whom others know) and have a go. It is critical that Atlantic Fellows become not just literate in XR but develop proficiency in making it work for equity. A few of us non-experts-in-technology are certainly having a go, with some ideas in motion already. As that article aptly notes:

“Remember that the golden age of capitalism came after the enormous wealth inequality of the Gilded Age. Right now we’re living in a second Gilded Age, in which wealth inequality is about the same as it was back in 1913…..The task before us is to imagine ways for technology to move us toward a golden age without bringing about another Great Depression first.”

No items found.
01

photo gallery

02

TESTIMONIES

01

No items found.

Related articles

Atlantic Fellows Newsletter

Expect to see updates in your inbox in the coming weeks.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.