The Center for Immersive Media Shares A New ‘Resist Covid Take 6!’ Virtual Experience
November 18, 2020
The Center for Immersive Media (CIM) at University of the Arts recently produced 360-degree documentation of the Carrie Mae Weems installation, Resist Covid Take 6!—currently on view throughout UArts’ Center City campus—that not only captures the artist’s work but also offers an immersive snapshot of the sights and sounds of Philadelphia amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Each of the components of Weems’ project brings awareness to the disproportionate, deadly impact of COVID-19 on Black, Latinx and Native American communities. This public campaign also emphasizes essential preventative steps including social distancing guidelines, evidenced by the allusion in the project’s title to the recommendation that people stay six feet apart. The works are intentionally installed on the exteriors of various venues where they can be safely viewed by the public.
The map hosts panoramic video clips created at five installation sites using an Insta360 Pro VR camera. The camera creates a full, equirectangular projection image, stitched together from six integrated wide-angle lenses. The videos are compatible with many virtual reality (VR) viewers, including the Google Cardboard viewer, which allows anyone to utilize an Android or IOS device to experience this content in an even more dynamic way.
The video clips, including one documenting the installation at the Art Alliance, show passersby encountering the project as they journey through the city. The soundtrack of cars and buses rushing by paired with individuals engaging in routine activities like dog walking are not unexpected scenes to encounter in a typical city on a sunny afternoon; however, the appearance of masks worn by the majority of those on the streets serves as an indicator of the impact of the virus on everyday life.
According to Price, “The primary goal of documenting Resist Covid Take 6! with immersive media technology is to capture the experience of being there, in the public spaces in which each of the works are installed.” Regarding how this work ties into the larger mission of CIM, Price explains, “The Center for Immersive Media is a resource and creative research proving ground where anyone at UArts may discover ways that virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture and human-computer interaction can augment or facilitate the work that they do. This documentation project is just one example of potentially unique ways to document public works.”
CIM’s VR documentation is a fitting accompaniment to Resist Covid Take 6!. This way of interacting with the installations reinforces Weems’ message by making the project—and by extension, the city—accessible in a safe yet engaging way that brings new dimension to the virtual viewing experience.