Volumetric Performance Toolbox

Live Virtual Performance Kit, September 2020

Special Thanks

  • Special thanks to the Rapid Response Fellows, Malika Imhotep, Botond Bognar, Yacine Bell, Amina Burrell, and all who attended the test showings and supported this project.
How can artists create new live performances during the time of COVID-19? Volumetric Performance Toolbox empowers creators to perform from their own living spaces for a virtual audience. Movement artist Valencia James performed publicly with the Toolbox for the first time on September 24, 2020 in the Mozilla Hubs virtual social space. The project is a collaboration with Valencia and creative technologist Sorob Louie as part of Eyebeam’s Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future fellowship.
“In times of pandemic, we need a space where we can still engage with art communally. There’s a lot of potential in this. […] here we are in our various spaces, and yet we could feel this togetherness. I could feel as a performer this exuberance and exhilaration, and all the adrenaline that I would normally feel in a physical performance, here in virtual space.”
The Volumetric Performance Toolbox is an ongoing effort to give artists access to tools that allow them to express themselves in live, virtual space. With the future of large social gatherings uncertain, this project helps performers create their own virtual spaces that audiences can access with no special equipment beyond a web browser. Those who attended Valencia’s performance experienced volumetric live-streamed video of the artist dancing amidst a 3-D recreation of the ruins of the Annaburg Plantation Sugar Mill in the U.S. Virgin Islands— a site she chose for its connection to her Barbadian heritage. After the performance, the audience was invited to gather around a feed from Valencia’s webcam to discuss the work with her.
Glowbox worked closely with Valencia and Sorob to create the technology that enabled this performance. Valencia performed in front of an Azure Kinect depth camera in her living room to stream volumetric video to a customized Mozilla Hubs instance, where the audience virtually gathered to view. In future iterations of the project the collaborators will continue to research lower-cost capture equipment and more user-friendly interfaces to reduce the economic and technological barriers to creating live virtual art events.

Credits

  • Valencia James, Project Lead + Movement Artist
  • Thomas Wester, Technical Director
  • Ben Purdy, Technical Direction
  • Thomas Newlands, Technical Artist
  • Sorob Louie, Hardware Development
  • Simon Boas, Production Coordinator
  • Produced at Eyebeam

Tools & Technologies

  • Azure Kinect
  • Mozilla Hubs
  • Mozilla Spoke
  • Blender
  • Virtual Reality Performance
  • Live Stream Video
  • Networked Experiences