#579: Using AR to Recontextualize Our Relationship to Reality with Cabbibo’s ‘ARQUA!’

isaac-cohenARQUA! was one of the ARKit launch applications that was designed by VR veteran Isaac “Cabbibo” Cohen, and it has the same indie charm and shader art aesthetic as his previous VR experiences of Blarp! and L U N E. ARQUA’s gameplay involves you creating a rainbow aquarium by playing kelp plants, schools of fish, and 3D rods that you place around your space by turning your body into the controller. Cabbibo is really interested in providing users of his AR experience with an experience of agency, creation, and beauty in a way that recontextualizes their relationship to their surrounding environment. I had a chance to catch up with Cabbibo after a presentation about Art in AR/VR in Portland, OR, where we talked about ARKit, exploring what makes a compelling AR experience, lessons that VR has to teach AR, and how data is the ‘R’ in MR/AR/VR/XR in that it’s the transformation of real objects into data that allows us to have mediated experiences within a symbolic reality.


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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. So on Tuesday, September 19th, iOS 11 came out, which means that all of these augmented reality applications that are built on top of ARKit are now available for any iPhone or iPad that's able to upgrade to iOS 11. So when you look at the larger ecosystem, augmented reality gaming is going to be a closer analog to the mobile gaming market than it is going to be for virtual reality gaming, just because it's going to be able to capture that casual gaming. But because it's augmented reality, you're putting a window into another realm, and you're then turning your body into a controller. But you're also able to express agency in new ways because you're able to have a more spatial relationship to how you're interacting with these virtual worlds that are being laid on top of your layer of reality. So one of the creators that I find, one of the most interesting and innovative explorers of these new immersive possibilities of gameplay has been Isaac Cohen, also known as Kibibo. With his Blarp, it's probably one of the most innovative embodied gameplay interactions that I've seen on virtual reality. And he's also created some fan-favorite indie VR experiences like Loon. And he's paired up with Viacom Next, who's producers of Chocolate, to produce an application called Arqua, which the mechanics of what happens in this experience is that you're able to place different items of an aquarium, and it's sort of got this filter of turning your world into like this psychedelic world. but it allows you to add these different ecosystems of augmented reality into your real life. And Kibibu's hope is that it starts to change your relationship to the real world as you return from being able to see it through this augmented reality lens. So I had a chance to catch up with Kibibo to talk about Arqua and some of his thoughts of, you know, what it means to be able to be working in augmented reality now. And for him, what some of the most exciting open questions and frontiers to figure out, first of all, what those interesting gameplay interactions are, but also how, as we interact with these mediated worlds, how that changes our relationship to the real world. So that's what we'll be covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Kibibo happened on Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:40.748] Isaac Cohen: Hey, I'm Isaac. I go by Kibibo on the internet. I've been releasing a lot of VR experiments and recently I've been getting into ARKit stuff and ARCore now and sort of trying to understand and experiment with these new cool ways of getting data and thinking about how we can interact with computation and sort of more emotional and spiritual ways.

[00:03:07.877] Kent Bye: Yeah, maybe you could talk about the decision that you made to go from what you were doing in virtual reality and to get more into augmented reality and this phone-based AR.

[00:03:16.868] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, I think that that honestly is like, so before I did VR, I was doing exclusively WebGL web-based experiences and I really, really love that, especially because so many people get to see it and so quickly somebody can be like, oh yeah, this thing, here's a link. And you can literally share it on Twitter and somebody just needs to press one button and all of a sudden they're in the experience and I think that's sort of, that reducing the amount of effort that it takes to engage with the experience allows you to be more experimental with that experience because you aren't sort of expecting that like you need to put in all this effort so that it's perfect so that the one time the one person sees it it really latches on to them and so it's pretty hard for me going from there to VR where like even with Blarp which is like my most sold game it just is like pales in comparison to the amount of views I would get for my bigger WebGL stuff. So basically, yeah, the concept of ARKit is really exciting to me because it's like, oh my God, there's so many people who might actually be able to use this. And then for me, a lot of it was just learning that you could do compute shaders on iOS or that Unity supported compute shaders on iOS because of Metal, which is a tiny little specific technical detail just like opened a world of computation to me that's super, super exciting.

[00:04:34.648] Kent Bye: So are you primarily working through Unity then? Because it sounds like a lot of your art that you've been working on has been these different shaders and these different effects. And so it sounds like you're able to use what you've learned about shaders, but do that through the vehicle of Unity and have that on the AR kit? Is that what you've been doing?

[00:04:51.003] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, totally. I still do a lot of WebGL stuff, serve it as fun little side projects, and WebGL to me, I just still feel so comfortable using WebGL and specifically Three.js, which is a super rad open source library for WebGL. So that sort of to me is still like where my home is in a lot of ways. But Unity sort of I've really liked because it spreads such a wide net of what it allows you to do that you get to do a lot weirder things than you would with Unreal or sort of like I, for example, with Unreal, I really wanted to use compute shaders. And then it's like, OK, I need to know like raw C. I need to be able to, you know, like read the source code of Unreal to be able to understand how to make it instead of Unity, which is sort of like, okay, we're going to try doing a lot of these little things that sort of provides you access deeper in, but you can engage with creating a game at whatever level you want. And I think that that is the most exciting part to me of like, If I wanted to write my own physics engine, I could tear out Unity's physics engine and do my own, and that's what I do for a lot of Compute Shader stuff, but then when I want the collisions that Unity has, all of a sudden it's like, oh, I don't have to do that. Because there's a lot you don't have to do, you get to focus specifically on what you want to do, and I think that that's like the biggest gift any technology company can give creators, is just like, do what you want to do, we'll do the rest.

[00:06:15.287] Kent Bye: Yeah, and you gave a talk last night at the Portland VR Meetup talking about some of the AR art that you've been working on. And one of the points that you made there was that a lot of the AR videos about ARKit that are being shown on Twitter are videos that look compelling in video as in a 2D medium, but they aren't actually all that compelling as an AR experience. Maybe you could talk about your own experience in terms of what makes a compelling AR experience on a phone.

[00:06:43.883] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, I think that what I think the biggest thing is that you can have compelling experiences in every way in the same way that I was saying last night too like I've seen 360 videos that have made me cry. You know something like Pearl or something like Dear Angelica or Henry or something like those are all deeply compelling experiences to me. So I don't think it's that it sort of is required for it to operate in this new computational real-time way. But for me, like a lot of what I find the most compelling is interaction. And so sort of like ARK experience is only going to be as compelling as this interaction, but it's also extremely difficult to communicate interaction to any medium except the medium itself. It's the same thing with VR still, which is the fact that like, the large majority of people who try a VR experience are actually going to be reading a blog. That's going to be the way that they engage with that experience. They aren't going to be trying the object itself. They aren't going to be playing with the actual interactions. They're going to be watching Jimmy Fallon play with Tilt Brush. They aren't doing Tilt Brush themselves. We don't know actually if those interactions are compelling. We just know that they're compelling to the person who is trying it. I think that that's the same thing with ARKit. You can see with all the ARKit things, Nobody in general really shows them like trying to find the plane so that air can detect the plane Nobody really shows like the frustrations of like low-level lighting Nobody shows like when you have the shadow pointing the opposite direction of the lighting in the world like there's all of these problems that we get to hide when we do it from video that we aren't going to get a hide when people have it in their hands. The cool part with ARKit is that like people are going to have it in their hands and there's going to be enough people actually trying the objects for us to understand when we have failed interaction wise. The hard part though is that when you're making an interaction that somebody else has to engage with, it's much easier to just say like, oh, well, I'll just make a compelling animation then. And I think we're going to see a lot of super rad compelling animations because interactions are really difficult. And so sort of like for me, I don't know yet what a compelling interaction is. I haven't been able to make a game mechanic that feels compelling enough to carry an experience itself. I've found things that feel close, and I've failed a lot of times, but the place that I'm still at is creation tools, you know, it's like the concept of like a mechanic that feels inherent to AR is still much more difficult to me. I still haven't sort of found that and in VR it definitely felt like Blarp totally is just like, okay, this is a mechanic that really makes sense in this space. The interaction itself feels like juicy enough and honest enough. that I want to engage with it and what the world looks like really doesn't matter. I think I could have shipped Blarp with the same graphics that I had the original day and it still would be a compelling experience. Whereas I haven't been able to find that with ARKit yet. And I think it exists, I just sort of think that figuring out what that is is going to be really difficult. And then the worst part is once you figure out what the interaction is, you also need to figure out how to communicate that interaction to people who do not have the actual ARKit. But the cool part is about ARKit is like, hopefully in a few months, we're going to be getting to actually just give it to people. And the communication is going to be from people to people, instead of from person to creation, and creation to press, and press to this giant blogosphere, but nobody actually seeing and examining the thing itself.

[00:10:18.979] Kent Bye: Yeah, in my last interview that I did with Robin Haneke of Phenomena, she was talking about world and, you know, that won the best AR experience at the last Google I.O. where they have, like, Google Play Awards. And one of the things that she was saying is that a lot of game mechanics, and she teaches game design, and she sees endless numbers of games of people where they're going into a world and vanquishing enemies where you're going in and shooting at something. And I think that we're likely going to see a whole bunch of things where you're shooting at things and vanquishing enemies. And World took the approach of you trying to make your environment beautiful in some ways. And it seems like with your aquarium experience that you're doing something very similar, where you're altering the look of the world, first of all, which I think is compelling within itself. But then you have these different mechanics. We have rods and fish and different objects that you're putting in there. And they're kind of reacting to you in different ways. And so maybe you could talk a bit about what you're trying to create there.

[00:11:11.982] Isaac Cohen: Yeah definitely I tried world and it was super compelling and that I think is probably one of the things that catalyzed this specific mindset if not in my id you know or in my ego like somewhere deep in there like I've been thinking about world a lot because that's a really beautiful example of sort of like I think that what's exciting about computation is that I was saying earlier to somebody that like the most compelling things that come from computers to me feel like they give somebody agency. So the piece that Barrett Fox and Martin made that they were talking about last night at the meetup was just this object that you really felt like you got to explore, you really felt like you got to create, and I think that anytime that you can give somebody a sense of creation, a sense of agency, like I think that's a really good thing to engage with, because understanding the ways in which we have power, understanding the ways that we can engage in the world, and understand that we can do things, we can make beauty, and we can also make non-beauty, is really, really magical to me. Because then it's sort of like, in world, you can make an ugly world. You absolutely can. With the aquarium thing, you can totally make an ugly aquarium thing, but once you give somebody the opportunity to screw things up, most likely they're still going to be trying to make something beautiful. And I think the act of trying to make something beautiful is a really good practice for us because we need to be doing that in every part of our life. I really think that once I engage with world, then it changes the way that my relationships work. And I think like, oh, I really had to care about how I put this flower on top of this rocket ship. If you then apply that somehow to your relationships and you enter into your relationships and your interpersonal connections with sort of the concept of, I am creating something beautiful, and you become mindful about that, I think that that sort of, to me, feels really special. One other thing I'll say about that is the fact that I really love the concept of augmented reality being a way that forces us to engage with our reality in a more aware way. So sort of like for the, a few months ago I did the Sotheby's Art in VR event for the Unity Artists in Residency. And what we did is we scanned this couch, right? And then we put it in this space and it's this super boring, dry brown couch. But then you put on the VR headset and all of a sudden it's like rainbow and just metallic and decadent and gooey and it's got this hair growing off it. And as you run your hand over it, it creates these shimmers and these sounds and it sort of is like makes this banal thing magical. and like the best compliment I got was when somebody took off their headset and like went back to that couch that they didn't even notice before that they didn't care about that they didn't think about or consider and they like ran their hand along it and they sat down and they were present with this thing that they weren't present with before and it sort of Allowed them to be more aware of like the miracle that they inhabited and I think that that to me is sort of Ideally the goal with this aquarium thing and I think that's sort of like in some ways is Some of the cool parts about like even stuff like the hot dog from snapchat It's just like all of a sudden people are like, oh a shopping cart Oh, an airplane wing. Like, oh, my friend's head. You know, it's like suddenly by being able to contextualize our reality with something that is specifically other, with something that is specifically not of that same reality, it makes us so much more aware of our reality. And that is really exciting to me.

[00:14:55.152] Kent Bye: Yeah, I noticed just in your Aquarium application, you have this filter that is just making everything look a little psychedelic. And so you're, in some ways, using this idea of category schema, which is, you know, you are able to categorize things in a specific way. And when you are able to change the look of it, it actually kind of flips you out of the normal category schema and makes you look at it in a new way. And there's also this idea of the magic circle, which is that you enter in the magic circle, and once you enter into a magic circle, then things take on a whole other level of meaning. And when you have this layer of augmented reality on top of reality, you're almost like entering in that magic circle. And then, you know, like the thing that a shopping cart goes by, and it sort of kills the dancing hot dog. And it takes on a different meaning, and it makes it notice objects in a new way.

[00:15:43.054] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think both of those analogies are like really, really great. I think that one thing that I've been considering, and earlier we were talking about the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and what I really love about the Museum of Jurassic Technology is that it doesn't necessarily feel like a magic circle, it feels like a magic Hilbert curve. It feels like a magic border that just becomes so frothy and foamy that you don't know what is and what is not and that to me is like the hope and sort of like one thing that's frustrating about the filter right now is that it is so specifically not this world and sort of like my dream for it is like maybe as you place things in the world the closer that you look to those things it sort of fades in and fades out so a lot of what my question is is like not what happens inside the magic circle but how do you make it so that somebody is fooled into stepping into the magic circle or maybe intentionally just by opening the app is stepping into the magic circle but then sort of it feels like the circle itself is alive and it isn't just this thing that you have to buy into which i think is reasonable and i remember somebody left some like review on blarp and one of my roommates that's like a bad review is like it's really difficult and i couldn't get a high enough score And my roommate was like, dude, were you even trying to have fun? And it's like, okay, there is some like suspension of disbelief. There is some sort of like a creativity that's required to engage with these other worlds. But I do think that being gentle with the immersion that you build and sort of thinking about how you bridge that abyss between the computational world and the physical one, is something that you have to do very gently, and you have to consider how to do it with nuance, which is something that I, admittedly, am pretty terrible at. But I also think, I forget it, I think it was Drew Skillman of Tilt Brush, it might have been Patrick, said you either need to show somebody something familiar in an unfamiliar way, or something unfamiliar in a familiar way. I think contextualization requires a relationship. You can't just have two disparate objects. that don't at all relate to each other. You need to have something that connects them so that the user is like, oh, OK, these are the same in some dimension. Like that super psychedelic reality you see in the phone and the reality we see in front of us is the same in some dimension. And it's about providing you the opportunity to make those connections yourself, create those relationships yourself in a way that allows you to hold on to them instead of be slapped in the face of them.

[00:18:20.540] Kent Bye: Yeah, and one of the things that you mentioned last night was how you see data, data being entered into this augmented reality where that's kind of your interface into this symbolic or archetypal realm where you're able to have a new relationship to computation and data. So maybe you could talk a bit about what were the main points of how you see data when it comes to augmented reality?

[00:18:41.293] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, I definitely was super pumped because about five minutes before the talk, I was trying to describe data to one of my friends. And I was like, oh my god, data is the R. Data is the R in MR and AR and XR and all these things. Data is the way that we take the physical world and we translate it into the world of computation. Computers are freaking magical objects that have these superpowers, but they can only have those superpowers once we convert objects into data that they can then consume. So like a lot of it for me is like, you know, like as soon as I had the leap and it had that super beautiful, dexterous, extremely responsive data set, like that to me was enough for me to say VR or say AR at the very least. It's like taking reality, converting it into data, And as it converts it into data, then I don't care what we do with it after that. I don't care if I've got an HMD on. I mean, I do kind of care. I don't want an HMD. I don't even want glasses. I want to be in R. I want to be in this reality. I don't want something to be between me and it. But as long as there are things of reality, aka data, as long as we have found accurate ways of communicating this world into the world of the GPU, we get engaged with this world in a different way. And all of a sudden, we get to have computers on our team as humans. We get to ask computers to communicate their infinite processing power and the ways that they can look at the world and the ways that they can look at data. into a way that we can understand as humans. So for me a lot of what I think of like all the work that I do is more or less just data visualization or maybe like data illustration, but it's just as saying like how do you take data and communicate the beauty of that data, you know?

[00:20:35.544] Kent Bye: Yeah, just hearing you talk about that reminds me of this discussion that I had with Dean Radin who said that, you know, there's some scientists that are out there that think that the base reality may be some sort of mathematical or symbolic reality. And Max Tegmark wrote a book called Our Mathematical Universe that describes his take on whether or not base reality is maybe mathematics and then maybe some Symbolic or archetypal realm after that and I think that's sort of like we don't really necessarily know what that actually is It's sort of an open question of what is you know base reality or what is the nature of reality? and I think that goes all the way back to the Pythagoreans of just this idea that there may be this mathematical reality and that Instead of it being virtual reality or augmented reality maybe some sort of symbolic or archetypal reality that actually is Getting us closer to the base reality than we have in our ordinary life and so when I saw your aquarium application I see these like little particle fish that are floating around and I just I have this sense of like oh this is kind of mimicking either like a fluid dynamics or some other like equation that you may be able to see in nature but you're able to have a new relationship to that and so in some ways going into these augmented reality worlds you're able to give people a taste of something that may be actually closer to base reality than real reality.

[00:21:50.247] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, and for me, I think a lot of it is actually, it's being able to translate reality into a way that we can understand with our like biological meat sacks. You know, it's like, like I really like the concept of like most technology to me is sort of like taking things that operate at a different scale that we aren't trained evolutionarily to operate at and converting them to our scale. So like a telescope, for example, takes this thing that's super far away and was always just a dot to it and somehow does this like makes your transformation so that then all of a sudden that object is like in front of us and we get to like see and understand it with like human scale and i really think that that to me is a lot of it it's like it isn't so much like I mean it's the same thing are we getting closer to it or is it getting closer to us but it's about sort of translating and communicating and letting us understand with like our eyeballs which are freaking awesome you know sort of like symbolic nature or mathematics or sort of like understand that like you know like for example like this park that we're in like if we could see the fluid dynamics right now like we would be crying I guarantee it's so fucking beautiful but like we can't see that our minds like our evolutionary mindset didn't evolve to be like have these like fleshy orbs inside our head be able to understand that specific data be able to understand that specific part of reality so like the question of like how do we take things and translate them into a human scale is to me what almost all technology is and then sort of art in the same way but for art to me it's not so much like in a practical way of like oh I want to be able to see Saturn so I can understand if I can mine it but rather like oh I want to understand like this plot line that Miyazaki has written because all of a sudden it sort of takes this truth that was somehow at a different scale that wasn't at the scale that I could understand and it like unfolds it for me so that I can begin to understand it at like a more humane scale. Yeah and that's obviously what I want to do with technology is like take things translate them into our scale instead of taking us and translating us into the realm of computers and the realm of like me becoming just like a data set that like Facebook can mine or like a Spotify algorithm that tells me what music to listen to and sort of like turns me into a machine instead of having the machine help us understand the world around us.

[00:24:14.764] Kent Bye: Yeah, and we were just also talking about a number of different artists that inspire you in terms of people who have done certain sophisticated levels of world building in these different books. And it sounds like this direction that you may want to go eventually is to create your own worlds, to be able to have these imaginal realms that have stories and narratives and interesting things that fascinate you. is kind of a product of your imagination. And so a lot of your work has also been trying to get people connected to reality in a new way or to get them to open up and see and observe what is already there in front of their eyes that they may have not noticed before. So creating a new relationship for them with reality. And so how do you square that between doing world building that may be going off into these imaginal realms versus doing art that's gonna connect people to the direct experience of nature and reality?

[00:25:02.961] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, that's a really, I think I got two answers to that. The first one is, I think that like for VR, there's like two ways to think about it. One is sort of like a vacation, but you can either vacation by like going on a cruise ship and just like turning off and being in that totally other world, having everything taken care of for you and just vegging out. And that's great sometimes, but the sort of traveling that I like to do more is to go to a place that is not where I'm from. Like go to London and be like, oh this is what is different about London. Like this new reality that I'm part of is like so different from the one that I was in, and all of a sudden that makes you more aware of the reality you're a part of. So like if I make something in VR where gravity is up, and you just are chilling in a place where gravity is up for an hour, you have to, when you come back to the world and you take off the headset and gravity's down again, you are more aware of gravity being down. When the couch was the rainbow hairy thing and now the couch is brown, it doesn't matter that that reality is not this one, whatever the heck that arbitrary delineation means. All that matters is that it is giving you the tools to practice curiosity. The other way I say that is that I don't think I'm interested in creating worlds that come from my imagination. I think I'm interested in listening to whatever thing is moving me to create. I very rarely feel like I, Isaac, have made something. I've been reading Zen Mind Beginner's Mind, and it's so amazing, but there's this part where it's talking about how in the concept of the Christian God, the Christian God created the world, and everything was given by God to people. And whenever we create something or we do something, we create and we give something to the world. We say, I create, but we forget who the I is. It isn't the small I, it's the big I. Because we were a gift from God, everything we create is also a gift from God. It is not from us. And so for me, a lot of it is remembering that All of the creations I make, all of the creatures I make are not things that come from my imagination. They're things that the world has shown to me. And they're things that sort of happen because of a conversation that somebody has said to me. They're more a manifestation of my observation point in this reality than they are Isaac Cohen, the silly ego that's gonna die in however many years, you know? So I don't think it's about making something that doesn't exist. it's about like slowly pulling the thread from the ether and making something that was in a place of yet to be into the place of what is, like unfolding into reality. I really like the analogy of pillow lava forming at the bottom of the ocean where it's sort of like there's this like liminal space, this crack, and then from that crack it opens up and it rips earth apart, but by ripping it apart it like all of this infinity pours out and then it sort of creates these other new cracks and they rip themselves apart by their own creation and it continues to just like billow forth into existence and i don't think i made the lava or i sculpted it or anything i'm just like oh what about this crack like is there any way that i can help induce that into existence. Like it's more massaging or Ben Servini, a good friend of mine, used a phrase of like tending to forms. You know, it doesn't feel like creation. It doesn't feel like manifestation even. Maybe there's more complexity there. It feels like you're tending. It feels like you're pulling on a thread of something that already exists.

[00:28:37.187] Kent Bye: Yeah, and you were talking about epiphany last night and how you just have to get out there and not try to create something that has any specific utility or pragmatic use case, but you're just trying to capture the inspiration to discover something and then it's more of a recognition through the repetition of creating that you realize that you've achieved that state rather than something that you've manufactured or that's I guess your job as an artist is to reach those flow states and then be able to Be able to recognize the epiphany when it comes.

[00:29:07.433] Isaac Cohen: Yeah. Yeah, and and one thing I didn't say last night But I'm thinking about now is the fact that like Eureka is like an exclamation is like one of surprise, you know, it isn't like oh, okay, it's like oh my god, like That's it. It's being in awe of what is right in front of you. It feels very similar to the moment of the dude taking off the headset and touching the couch and being like, oh my god, this was always right in front of me, but now I finally understand it. It's such a simple truth. to be able to like be even for a moment aware of all of this is like I don't know obviously ecstatic I don't I don't know the word for what suddenly remembering that you're alive is but it feels Yeah, so magical. And I think that that sort of to me is like, for example, like I don't think that capitalism values that spiritual epiphany. I don't think that sort of the recognition that we are all connected, that we all need to care for everything else because it is us. I don't think that sort of productivity, I don't think that like our social media sites, I don't think that most things are actively engaged in trying to produce that. which sort of means that in my mind you have to figure out ways to step back from it. And obviously I have a ton of privilege to be able to step away from it. And the question is like, how do we then make it so that other people are able to have that privilege? How do we make it so that like even in a phone app like World, and this is where agency is so important, somebody's like putting and placing all these things and then all of a sudden they turn around and they get to experience that like Eureka moment, you know, like how do we make things so that people get to feel connected feel alive?

[00:31:00.711] Kent Bye: Great. And and finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of augmented reality and what it might be able to enable?

[00:31:08.568] Isaac Cohen: Yeah, I hope it's another stepping stone. Just like VR is, just like AR is, just like a screen is, just like a cell phone is. I hope that we're moving towards a place of, like, malleable reality. Of, like, reality where we are not in the world that we're in currently. And we're in a place where computers are our friends, and computers are a thing that allows us to more deeply understand and interact with the world. So to me, there's this really cool piece that Haim Gengold and Luke Iannini did called La Tabla, and I think there's a video on their website, which is tablaviva.org. It is super magical because all it is is a table with a projector pointing down, some super rad computer vision software stuff, and it becomes a table that becomes interactive. And what's so amazing about it is in that video, you get the things that are by default part of reality, like multiplayer. Every single thing they create has to be by default multiplayer because anybody can walk up to that table. By default, you're engaging with other people. By default, you have pressing on the table. By default, you get to Engage with things like one of the things they do is like you can draw a little animation and the more Boxes you draw on and place next to each other it actually creates the animation But then you get to take those papers and replace them like by default You're interacting with reality the way that we have grown to interact with reality for forever So to me that that sort of is the next step and and sort of what I want to see from all of this is just not Where it is right now, but where hopefully is going to be Awesome.

[00:32:47.420] Kent Bye: Well, thank you so much. Yeah, no problem So, that was Isaac Cohen, also known as Kibibo, talking about Arqua, his first augmented reality application, which is now available. So, I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, The thing that really jumps out to me in this interview is the way that Khabib was talking about data and how real objects have to be abstracted into these representations of data. And once that translation has happened, then we can start to have these new relationships with those objects in the symbolic realm within these augmented and virtual reality worlds. So the metaphors that he was given is that he sees virtual and augmented reality as kind of like a vacation where you're able to go into these other realms and recontextualize your relationships with these objects so that when you come back, it's kind of like going to another country and appreciating the nuances of a culture that you may not have recognized before just because you've always been around it and you just didn't see it as anything extraordinary. But then when you see a different culture, then when you come back, then you're able to see it in a new light. So Isaac is talking about this idea of being able to translate these different dimensions of reality that we can't see or understand and to be able to give them these data representations so that we can see them with our perceptual systems and then convert it to our human scale and be able to understand it in a new way. I can imagine a time when we're going to start to have these augmented reality experiences where we're going to be able to turn the invisible into visible things that we can actually see. One of the other ARKit applications that I've seen that I think is going to be super popular is being able to hold up your phone and to be able to look at the night sky and do a time lapse of the movement of both the sun and the ecliptic and the planets and all the constellations so that you can look west and watch as the sun sets and see the planets that are there. So I think it's going to allow us to make a deeper connection to reality of things that we can't necessarily see. So I think that there's this theme in Capebo's augmented reality work where he's trying to figure out ways for you to engage with reality in a more aware way and then be able to become more aware of the miracle that you're inhabiting. So I think the big focus that could be what I was focusing on is both agency and embodiment in different ways. Embodiment because you're using your body as a controller, as you're moving around the phone in augmented reality. And I think it's an important point to talk about how a lot of times when you look at just a 2D representation of some of these embodied mechanics, you don't necessarily get it. And you have to really see either in a mixed reality context or in a third person perspective to see somebody kind of moving their body around. And it does seem like the experience of world was a big inspiration to Kibibo as he is working on Arqua. And I think that for Kibibo, there's something about him being able to surrender his ego and not necessarily think that his work is coming from just his mind. It's almost like he's trying to get into that place of surrender and becoming an empty vessel for that inspiration and insights to come through him rather than for him to be trying to grasp onto it too tightly. I think anybody who is in the process of doing creative work will recognize that feeling of how that creative inspiration can be often very elusive and you just have to keep on trying to create things and get into those flow states that can often feel very elusive. And I think as artists and creatives who are trying to give people that feeling of surprise and awe and wonder and those eureka moments and empowering them to be able to create and express their agency in the world to be able to create beauty. that oftentimes that the existing structures of capitalism are not necessarily supportive of that. And so for Kibibo, he's just trying to give people a taste of that feeling of creativity by giving them a pretty bounded experience within the context of this AR experience so that they can have that limited amount of agency and creativity within their life so that they can find ways to step out away from all the pressures of productivity and social media, and just allow them to discover these eureka moments to help them get to that place where they feel more alive. So, that's all that I have for today. I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast, and if you enjoyed the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so your donations ensure that I can continue to bring you this type of coverage of what's happening in both augmented and virtual reality. So consider becoming a member today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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