Where and how do virtual reality media merge with a human audience? At the nineth annual Virtual Systems and Multi Media (VSMM) conference, entitled “Hybrid Reality: Art Technology and the Human Factor” this issue will be explored. Hosted by the Montreal based Hexagram Art and Technology Research Institute, the conference will showcase over 90 presentations on virtual reality media, as well as a performance by Cirque de Soleil and two IMAX film screenings from Oct. 15-17 at the Montreal Science Centre.
Originating in Japan in the early 90’s by members of the VSMM society, the conference was created to link researchers in various virtual reality media fields. “One of the goals of (the conference) is to foster the exchange of research and information between the various areas…under the umbrella of Virtual Systems and Multimedia,” VSMM director Hal Thwaites stated.
Making its first visit to Montreal, this year’s meet will bring together researchers lecturing on topics such as behavioural effects of media, and preservation of historic artifacts under the common theme of virtual reality technology.
“The theme is… Art, Technology and the Human Factor because that is what we are creating, researching and exploring with the new media we employ. (The conference) brings together a very heterogeneous mix of people who would not usually have the opportunity to meet and interact together in one place,” Thwaites noted.
Past conferences have had themes which stay relevant to their locale, such as the issue of cellular technology at a past VSMM meet in Japan. This year will be no different, with a presence of uniquely Montreal media art and research. “Montreal is a multi-media city so it seemed a natural idea to incorporate what is happening here into the conference,” Thwaites said.
On the entertainment front, Montreal based Cirque du Soleil will be featured, which Thwaites explained was an obvious choice in representing the city.
“In thinking about Hybrid Reality and being in Montreal it seemed to me the Cirque must be involved…What the Cirque does is create a hybrid reality by combining art, technology and the human factor in an artistic immersive environment.”
With a presence of diverse countries and media research fields, the conference aims to create a cohesion between those seperated by geography and ideas, Thwaites elaborated.
“Above all (VSMM 2003) will help to grow the (virtual reality media) community and expand the horizons for everyone…If everyone goes home with one new idea or perspective then it has succeeded. I personally find it very fulfilling to create a space in time and then put all these researchers, artists, producers, students and many more to see what happens.”
VSMM 2003 will take place at the Montreal Science Center. For more information, go to www.vsmm.org/2003/1