#803: Cultivating Architectural Design Intuition with VR & Hacking the Boundaries of Perception

Andreea Ion Cojocaru is one of the few architects who is designing both virtual experiences as well as real buildings with Numena VR. I first met her in Germany during VR Now in November where I talked to her about her award-winning experiments in immersive architecture, and I had a chance to catch up with her at the end of the day of the Symposium of the Architecture for the Immersive Internet.

I talk with Cojocaru about her impressions of her experience of debating with the faculty of the Architectural Association about the merits of immersive technologies to explore spatial design, and some of the hesitations around what’s missing in virtual representations of architectural objects. She emphasizes the need for architects to produce more examples of immersive architecture in order to explore the deeper dynamics of the fundamental principles of spatial design, and the phenomenological primitives that are consistent between the virtual and the real. We also talk about some of the sociological biases of the practice of architecture, and how immersive technologies can elucidate and start to shift certain cultural practices around architectural representations.

Finally, the last half of this epic conversation focuses on some of the perceptual hacks that Cojocaru has been experimenting with as a sort of adrenaline junkie form of stretching the boundaries of her sensory perception. She talks about what it’s like to put virtual cameras on her feet as well as adding additional virtual cameras that allows her to see an object from multiple perspectives at the same time as she moves her body through space. She’s looking for other people who are also interested exploring the boundaries of virtual world perception, and so you can reach out to her via social media for more information about her various explorations.


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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[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 continuing on my series, looking at the future of immersive architecture, I talk again to Andrea Kashikaru. I talked to her back at VR Now, which was in Berlin. Andrea runs a architecture firm where she's doing these virtual experiences, but she's also designing real life architecture. So she told me in that conversation in episode 719, where her brain kind of goes to this very interesting context switch between whenever she's designing physical buildings versus when she's designing virtual spaces. And by jumping back and forth between the two, it's given her all sorts of different insights. And she takes a very phenomenological approach to architecture and design. And so I had a previous conversation with Quidel O'Sullivan back at Magic Leap LeapCon, and there's a conversation there that I aired back to back from Episode 718 and 719, and that was actually a catalyst for Lara and Frederick to reach out to me and to invite me out to this immersive architecture of the internet. And they had also heard of Andrea and her work through the initial conversation that I had with her back in December, and they brought her to this symposium. And so we had an opportunity to go through the entire first day. I ended up doing an interview with the creators of Square Eyes, Anna Mill and Luke Jones. Meanwhile, at that time, there was this whole discussion that was happening between the rest of the faculty from the Architectural Association had come in to be able to talk about some of the discussions that were happening over the course of the symposium, but also to have these deeper discussions about some of their skepticism and their concerns around how much can these virtual representations within VR represent the actual aspect of the materiality of physical built objects. And so I think Andrea was coming from having done a little bit of both designing virtual experiences, but also being trained as an architect, and to be able to kind of argue why architects should be concerned about where this is all headed and how this is something that architects have a lot to say about how this unfolds in the future of how spatial design is done within these virtual experiences. So Andrea is also doing all sorts of really interesting experiments on herself. She's pushing the limits of her own perception and almost like as a adrenaline junkie, trying to create these different types of experiments within virtual reality and trying to expand her own sense of perception within these virtual worlds, putting cameras on her feet and putting multiple cameras in different scenes and just doing different things to kind of hack her brain and to have. their brain react to it and be able to adapt to be able to do things that are just physically impossible otherwise. So we're covering all that and more on today's episode of the voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Andrea happened on Friday, March 1st, 2019, after the architectural associations, immersive architecture of the internet symposium in London, England. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:03:12.970] Andreea Cojocaru: Hi, my name is Andrea Cojocaro and I'm a traditional architect and programmer. And I have a company in Germany that designs virtual experiences and real buildings.

[00:03:27.516] Kent Bye: Great. So we just came from the immersive architecture of the internet symposium that was held at the architectural association here in London. And so what was your experience like today to be a part of the symposium and what are you taking away from this experience?

[00:03:44.007] Andreea Cojocaru: It was quite a fantastic experience. And I think everyone had an eagerness to share their experience because VR and architecture, the combination is still quite rare. It's quite niche. So we all live in different cities and we work in isolation. So when we get opportunities such as these, we are just kind of super excited. And you could feel that excitement, I think, in the room. People were just talking and coming up with ideas and everyone just felt happy I guess this is the kind of atmosphere you sometimes have in the beginning of a new field. I remember reading some accounts about the start of cybernetics how there was a series of conferences and talks when people just from various fields actually so not unlike today came together to talk about what's this whole thing that has to do with information and systems exchanging information and that was the birth of cybernetics and I read a book where there were some parts of the correspondence that was being sent to one another after these meetings. And there was a little bit, well, I think I'm making it sound maybe more important than what it is, because of course cybernetics ended up changing the future of humankind. So maybe I'm overly optimistic that virtual reality is going to do the same thing. But there was that kind of excitement and I think only time will show if we're all self-delusional or not.

[00:05:18.078] Kent Bye: Well the thing that was striking for me being invited to come speak to a room full of architects not having architectural training but I talked to so many different people in the VR industry that I start to see these different patterns that emerge that I can start to see that are qualities of how this medium wants to be created and For me, there was a part of wanting to be provocative in some ways of really challenging what I saw as, as I talked to so many different people in the industry, there's a bit of hearing over and over again, the importance of agile and iteration and putting something out there, getting feedback and iterating. And that, I think that there is an iterative design process within the process of architecture, but it's still within the design phase. You're not building buildings that have problems. It's a safety issue. And so you have to get all the design iterations out of the way, but then you're kind of building blind where you don't know what it's going to feel like until it's actually built. But in VR, you're able to do these rapid iterations. And that's why I think it's so fascinating for you as somebody who's coming in, actually still building buildings and doing virtual architecture, designing these spaces. I haven't met very many other people that are still walking in between that intersection of those two worlds and seeing what that interplay is. So I feel like you're, you're also bringing a lot of this perspective of really challenging the larger architectural community for how to think about their process of design and architecture. And so I'm just curious to hear what those provocations that you're really bringing to the larger architectural community.

[00:06:51.338] Andreea Cojocaru: Actually as you were saying that just now something crossed my mind that had to do with what we said earlier so to put things in context a bit there was a discussion later in the night today after the symposium that Ken was not able to attend and he asked me later what was talked and now I have actually the answer to that which is also the answer to the question you just asked. So this was a meeting among the teachers at the AA and one of them had the comment and he said well architecture is a hard medium. A hard medium in the sense that of course we work with materiality in a very quote-unquote real way and then we have to compete with these soft media which you know there's the social media and even if you think of photography and video and all of these are much quote-unquote softer than architecture. And then I had to say something and I said, architecture is a soft medium. The problem is that as architects, we design as if it was a hard medium. And we teach people as teachers to design as if it was a hard medium. And I had two examples to prove my point that it's actually soft. So the first example was something that Space Popular also showed on two slides today, which is the Trompe-l'oeil effect that used to be painted on Renaissance buildings in Europe, where you look up at the ceiling and the ceiling would have a big circular hole. and the sky would be painted and then you would have some angels or other kind of creatures or people painted as if they were looking down to kind of enforce this Trompe l'oeil effect and even if these days you would think well it wouldn't fool me well of course I don't think it was fooling people back then either people were not stupid but even if you don't really believe that's the sky it completely changes the atmosphere in that room so as you are not even looking at your sky first of all the ceiling would be in your peripheral vision as you are talking to someone your brain would enter a different state as you would be seeing the blue of that sky upwards of you in your peripheral vision and when the brain enters that state that is a virtual thing happening So there goes the whole hardness of architecture when you've all of a sudden virtually opened up the ceiling without making a hole. And my second example was, think of how easily people get lost when they have to take at least two turns on a hallway in a hotel. They lose their orientation in a heartbeat. And I read a chapter in a book about philosophy where the author admitted with embarrassment that while he was teaching at the university somewhere in Canada, he had an office where in order to get to the office from the front door he had to I think take maybe three turns and he spent the first six months of his time there thinking that the window of his office was looking into the wrong street so there was just something in those three turns and this was not a funky building but something just confused the hell out of him and confused it's not the right word but it put him on the wrong street right so he thought he was not on the street where he actually was so he inhabited a virtual version in a way of his office So some of these lessons are older lessons from architecture that architects from a few centuries back knew and knew how to use well, such as these Trombe d'Oeil effects. And there are other examples as well that we have forgotten. So in the way as modern architects and contemporary architects, we have turned architecture into something hard. We've made it harder than it actually is. and then there are also these elements of being able to enter a state of a building or enter a state of mind where you are in a building that somehow access a different orientation a different place although you are in a very fixed physical location so all of these are possibilities embedded in the hardness of the architectural elements. We just don't use them as architects because we're not taught how to use them and we do not today live in a cultural context that encourages that or even brings that forth as a possibility.

[00:11:51.066] Kent Bye: Yeah, I was doing an interview with Luke and Anne about their graphic novel, Square Eyes, looking at a speculative design future, looking at augmented reality from an architectural perspective. So I missed this whole debate that happened with the general faculty and these discussions, but it sounds like that during the actual symposium of the immersive architecture of the internet, it was mostly people that were on board with this concept and idea of exploring virtual reality and what architecture could use in these virtual spaces. But It sounds like that this is not a universal thing that all of the architects that are out there are on board with VR as a thing, and maybe they're a little bit more skeptical. Maybe you could recap from your perspective as an architect what the different dynamics are there in terms of why and what are the different arguments or hesitation or skepticism that might be out there around virtual reality.

[00:12:41.813] Andreea Cojocaru: So it's a bit hard to answer that question from the perspective of the meeting that just happened because we did not talk at length about these issues. but I would say you're totally correct there is skepticism amongst architects about virtual reality and here I'm not so much talking about architects I'm talking about kind of a small group of architects that are interested in these more critical, speculative aspects of architecture. So I don't necessarily mean everyday architectural projects. But there are certain things that they were struggling with, such as, and I think this question was asked, I might be wrong, but I think it was asked things like, well, what would you use it for? So architecture is so, deep in a relationship with use and rightly so but as architects we have a very hard time divorcing the idea of architecture from use and then we're having a hard time imagining what an abstract kind of use would be because when we mean you so I also brought this up today so I said okay just think for one second what would happen if starting tomorrow all of us we start to grow wings well the way of locomotion would change first of all we would not have doors anymore the windows would look totally different, we would not be entering buildings through the ground floor, through a door, we would not be having corridors the way we do, the ceiling heights, the size of rooms, absolutely everything you know, the entire logic of the building would radically change if we had wings. So what the virtual is bringing as a proposition is an even deeper change than that not only can you fly in vr you can do way crazier things than fly i mean go figure what's crazier than flying but in vr you can do crazy things and fly so architects right now are having a bit of a brain freeze when it comes to even imagining beginning to imagine the extent of those changes and then somehow the question still remains and what would you use it for what exactly do you do there do we interact well how exactly do we interact you know because as architects we're trained to see architecture as the solution to a certain problem. So we solve the problem of housing. We solve the problem of spaces of interaction. But then we can solve those problems with architecture because we understand the terms of the problem. We understand what kind of interaction do we need to provide a space for. And actually, in architecture school, every student before starting design has to go through a research period where they understand exactly what the terms of the problem are. So it's very difficult to get architects to speak in an abstract free manner about such things. So they will ask you, well, what's going to happen there? Like interaction. Okay. What do you mean interaction? And sometimes there is no easy answer to that. And sometimes the discussion kind of comes to a standstill.

[00:16:06.365] Kent Bye: Well, to me, I get the impression, I wasn't there and I didn't have a chance to ask them, but it sounds like they're kind of talking about things in a theoretical abstract where they may have not necessarily even had a full range of virtual reality experiences so that they have these embodied metaphors that are inside their body that they can reference that you could argue with somebody until you're blue in the face about the theory of VR, but you could also just give them a VR experience to show them as a form of a philosophical argument. And that in some ways, it's much more effective to try to create an embodied experience that they can have, that they maybe can have a deeper understanding for what these concepts are. Because when you talk about thought experiments, like wings, you know, and what that would mean to change, I mean, that's sort of a level of distraction. But once you you are in VR, and you realize that, oh, there's these processes of Sensory addition and sensory substitution where you could actually train yourself to have a tail or train your whole sensory input that you're having But but once you have those primary metaphors for what it means to be immersed into these virtual worlds I think once you have those experiences you're able to use those as these primary building blocks for these larger arguments and it sounds like that, you know, you've been doing this deep exploration of the potential of VR and And then, you know, feeding back into the architectural process for how the larger industry and education and culture of architecture could have some things to learn about virtual reality. But yet these people that you're engaging in these conversations with, without them actually having the direct embodied experience, it's going to be a hard argument to make.

[00:17:38.212] Andreea Cojocaru: yes yes and i was getting a little bit well upset is not the right word but but basically it felt like we were debating whether or not this is something that should be of our concern and I was a bit confused as to why was that not obvious. So the proposition of the treaty today was the architecture of the immersive internet and this idea that with the availability of these headsets right now all of a sudden we can go to the internet and we can visit virtual places and we want to. So there's this network out there and it might have different levels of connectivity but the point is we want to go inside. and this is a crazy thing that we couldn't even imagine five years ago because we did not have this headset so if five years ago someone was to say to me well I want to go inside the internet or I want to go inside this digital process or it would just not be something we could even conceive of so here we are in a situation where we want to go inside That's crazy, right? Like the idea of wanting to go inside a digital thing, inside a digital file, inside a digital process, you know, double click on a executable file and go in. It's a totally new thing that didn't even exist a few years ago, but it's here. It has arrived and it's spatial. because we can only live in a three-dimensional world. So it's too late to debate whether it concerns you or not. You are, as an architect by definition, you design spaces. And these spaces have arrived now, they're a possibility and people want them. So I'm not sure you can debate whether, well, I'm going to just step out of it. But some people there did think that was debatable. And maybe I assume you're totally correct in that it did have to do with the fact that they weren't really understanding what it is that we were talking about or what was at stake. But yeah, it's not, I guess I do feel a bit of a maybe like a more responsibility of architects to kind of take this over. And I got a bit upset when the idea was that, well, maybe we shouldn't, maybe this is not our problem. And I feel like saying, well, this is very much our problem, actually.

[00:20:38.666] Kent Bye: Yeah, just from covering so many different perspectives, I feel like that there's so many different domains and disciplines that have something to say and some insight to contribute to virtual reality as a medium. And architects are interesting just because they're thinking about space and world building in a very specific way, but from a tradition that The best way that I can describe it and think about it is this, it's that we have language to be able to describe different aspects of our experience, but yet our perception is something that is happening in this parallel processing way that we're able to identify that this is a bed and that that's a table. and that we know what that table is based upon the pattern relationships for all the different component parts. But if you were to ask me to point to one singular thing in this bed or table that makes it a bed or table, I'd be hard pressed. It's like a pattern relationship of everything. And my brain just automatically figures it out below my conscious awareness, and it just automatically assigns all those contextual relationships. And it's something that in the AI community would be considered to be a subsymbolic process. So a neural network architecture that is equivalent to like our perceptual systems that are taking in all this data, it's seeing these different patterns in these relationships and using this higher dimensional math to be able to draw all those different component parts. And then you can basically train a level of perception to be able to see. But that if you were to ask an AI algorithm, like, why did you decide that this was a cat and not a dog? then it's based upon these millions of different higher dimensional mathematical component parts to be able to do that. But they can't point to one specific thing or to tell a story about why that is. And that to me, it seems like architecture is a bit of this perceptual process where you're trying to have these embodied experiences of these different spaces. And you're designing this sense of design intuition about what space feels like. And then you're building it and designing it and iterating that and accumulating this experience over many, many years. But that at the same time, it may be difficult to articulate what's actually happening and what you're doing and how do you train someone to even do that? Seems to be a little bit of an alchemical mystery for how you train architects to be architects, but for architects to even talk about what they do and how they have their expertise, how that can contribute to the larger problems that things like virtual reality are facing.

[00:22:57.949] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, and I think that's part of the exciting things about schools like the Architectural Association in London is that they have the kind of staff that has the knowledge to attempt to make some of this process more transparent. you can never make them totally transparent because that's part of the magic of it that you do develop an intuition but having a certain degree of critical understanding can be enormously helpful it can give you agency a little bit in steering the direction of your type of design because if you live things to total intuition what kind of buildings do you end up designing if there's no level of active critical agency so are you some kind of genius who will just spontaneously have the intuition to design these amazing things Well, that would be very rare if that's the case. Most people left to their own intuition will probably design whatever they have around them. That's kind of the general tendency. So in schools like this, they aim to produce a generation of architects that have the tools to steer their intuition consciously into certain directions. So that's kind of the added value of this kind of critical discourse.

[00:24:34.510] Kent Bye: Yeah. And I'm coming as an outsider into this whole world of architecture. And so how is the architectural association seen in the broader architectural community?

[00:24:46.515] Andreea Cojocaru: I don't know if I'm the best person to answer that. Well, it's seen very highly. I think it's quite in terms of theoretical work in architecture is quite a top.

[00:24:55.399] Kent Bye: Yeah, it was interesting to be here and to have these different discussions. And to me, I have a number of different takeaways from just having this experience. One is that there was a very ambitious idea that we were going to have this discussion and come together with a singular document sort of being a little a call to arms, a larger architectural community that they could start to take these conclusions and insights and then go off and to Be a stepping stone into building into a larger knowledge base and for me I went through the VR privacy summit with 50 different people from around the industry and we had a similar topic of trying to come up with some sort of ethical framework around privacy and The conclusion was a little bit of like though. This is like a really broad complicated area that's very difficult to pen down in terms of what it even is and I And then I went to a Philosophical Association of America conference where the founder of philosophy of privacy gave this rousing speech to the entire philosophical community and was like, here's my work that I've been doing for the past 30 plus years about privacy. And we don't have a comprehensive philosophical framework around privacy. And this is what we need to do to create that. And then suddenly I realized, oh, Like, there is no comprehensive framework around privacy. And so how would we expect for 50 people gathering randomly to sort of emergently discover that in the course of a single day? And it feels similar in terms of like, there's not a comprehensive framework for the human experience. So I feel like there's a bit of all these deep, open philosophical questions that are like, what is the human experience? And how do we relate to the world around us that when you start to think about, okay, what are the architectural insights into this open philosophical problem? To me, there can only be a series of open questions rather than sort of definitive statements as to what that means.

[00:26:41.051] Andreea Cojocaru: So I partly agree with that. The part of me that does not is the part of me that thinks the following. Sometimes there is no clear answer to something because you haven't done the work. And I think that's also the case here. So I was a bit surprised today not to see more examples of virtual architecture. So I have my own share of struggles when it comes to designing the virtual spaces for our applications. And I came prepared to talk about those struggles. I think it was also what happened was also that I had 20 minutes to present and I chose not to show any examples of my virtual architecture work because I needed more time to present my theoretical framework. But I was still in the frame of mind, okay, other people will do it though. Other people will show their virtual architecture and then we'll be able to have a conversation about that. And there were some examples of virtual reality projects, but they were focused either on more of an architecture as an object in virtual reality or more on this idea of the experience. And I think the rest of the VR community and the creators are focused on the notion of the VR experience and I felt today like saying well okay wait a minute we are architects let's forget for a second about this experience let's just talk about the damn design and the actual architecture And there were no examples of just virtual architecture. And there wasn't that much talk about just design in terms of design elements and aesthetic, because why not? I mean, we're architects, that's what we do. That's what we're trained to do. And that part is still missing from most VR applications that I see. So I think architects just need to do the work. to at least get some examples of the table and get to the point where we can at least talk about things. Because again, as any person who's ever done a VR application will know, you cannot avoid where you are. You cannot avoid designing some kind of environment.

[00:29:16.250] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, when I was at the American Philosophical Association, there was a very interesting split between the analytic tradition and the continental tradition. But there's a number of people that were coming from more of an aesthetic perspective that were saying, hey, maybe we should start to treat these media objects like a film as a philosophical argument. Why aren't we considering like The Matrix or Black Mirror as complicated, sophisticated philosophical arguments And that there's like a logocentrism in terms of really exalting the language and the written word, in some ways the spoken word, but really the argumentation of the language as legitimate form of discourse to be able to talk about it. And so I think because it is early and this is the first iteration and first stab in the dark at doing this, but there could be more focus in the future, having a series of different demos of having maybe even an entire demo day. where people would see the latest examples of virtual architecture, and then we'd be able to talk about it. And as an experiential journalist, that's my preferred method is to go into an area and to see the experience and then talk about it with the people that have created it. But there tends to be an emphasis on being able to turn things into language, rather than looking at the direct experiences of these buildings that are being built. as a critical part of the dialogue and the dialectic and these larger philosophical arguments that may need to be made, but that people could actually create the immersive experience of that and then have people experience it and then unpack it and talk about it.

[00:30:47.712] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah so again going back to architecture school I remember my dean telling us one class be ready as architects to get thrown out of a lot of buildings because you're gonna have to try to break into as many spaces as you can just to experience how it feels to be in that space so you walk on the street you see some interesting lobby in New York well you probably should not walk in because it's private property but just walk into that lobby just make that one step because it's worth experiencing that space and that's what's going to make you a good architect the fact that you through these experiences you will build in your mind a library of spaces associated with a certain experience how did it feel to be in a room where the walls were painted green how did it feel to be in a room that was five meters tall and two meters wide or so you're building up a library and a vocabulary that then you can use when you design your own buildings so it's a little bit what you've been doing keep trying these virtual experiences so right now you have a massive vocabulary in a way of experiences and a catalog in your mind so it's very hard just like it would be hard to design a real building without this knowledge which is not a strictly intellectual knowledge right it's an experiential knowledge that you accumulate by being physically into this variety of spaces it's very hard without that to design a real building it's very hard without that to design virtual buildings there's this thing that architects do before starting a design it's called precedent analysis so what you do is you collect images or if you can you go and drive to buildings that have a similar kind of goal and program as the one you're supposed to design just so you familiarize yourself with what were the solutions that are the architects before you found to the same problems that you have to solve And we tend today as well to talk a lot about what's different in virtual reality from real reality, what's different in virtual architecture from real architecture. And sometimes we forget the things that are not different. So the design process, I think, is not that different in that as a designer of virtual spaces, you do need to build up that library in your mind. And you can only do that by testing and trying and trying virtual experiences. And they can't all be yours. That's actually very important. you can't be your own reference all the time because you're not gonna grow that way. So that's kind of also part of this ecosystem that we need as designers to start to cultivate and grow and create a space where we share these things. So what you said, what I wish had happened today and maybe will happen at the next meeting is we all take some time to just put ourselves in various virtual spaces they don't have to be experiences because right now whenever we say experience we expect things to happen we expect to have to crawl somewhere or do things they don't have to be that they just have to be a space that has a design intention so it cannot be empty and just sit there for two minutes and see how that space feels. Just build that in your mind and then talk about it.

[00:34:45.642] Kent Bye: logistically, ideally, they would be released maybe a week before the actual gathering, which would give people enough time to at their own pace, maybe look at it, and then, you know, maybe have a day beforehand, if people don't have access to the technology, or for whatever reason, their schedule hasn't allowed them to, but to allow people to just to have the embodied experiences of these, I think, you know, would make a huge difference of advancing the different discussions and discourse that would happen. And I guess an open question for me is to what extent can you build this library of pattern experiences in regular architecture, just by looking at either a virtual depiction of that, a photogrammetry, something that's a 360 photo, like how much of the spatial experience do you need to have? to be able to locomote and walk around moving your physical body through space to pay attention to all the different phenomenological cues that you may be having by having an embodied presence in that location. Like I know you've looked at a lot of buildings in real life and you've also done quite a lot of different VR and I'm sure seen different aspects of a photogrammetry depiction of a place. of maybe places that you've been to, and as a phenomenologist, I'm just curious what your experience is of looking at virtual architecture of real buildings, and can you get enough of that pattern library by doing these virtual tours just through VR?

[00:36:07.572] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, that's a great question. So architecture, has a problem that it hasn't really been able to solve and it got to the point where it's so bad our answer to it is to pretend it's not a problem and this is this the problem architecture is now being consumed through images so you become a famous architect when you design things that look great in pictures best pictures are taken when the sun has started to set and the lights in the building are on so the sky in the back it's blue a little bit it's getting a little bit dark and the lights in the building are on so that's what your reputation these days is built on that's what people consume as architecture doesn't matter if the building itself doesn't feel so good it's based on that image that you're gonna get your next commission and this opens up the issue of well what what do we design for as architects these days Think about how real estate is sold. So architects design an apartment building, they release a rendering, a photorealistic rendering of that. Apartments are being sold based on that image, not on the actual building. So more and more things and transactions are happening around architecture based not on the real building.

[00:37:51.092] Kent Bye: Well, just to cut in here, because I have heard of smaller design agencies that are taking on these projects of trying to depict these buildings that may be a 15 or 20 year development project where they're able to actually build out the virtual city or a virtual building. And I do think that there are some real estate and other agencies that are starting to look at how to use virtual reality technology to sell buildings, especially in real estate. You know, there's 360 photos and whole experiences that in terms of actually selling these buildings, you can get a good sense of what things look like from a photo tour, from 360 photos. And then you still want to check it out, but it's a great way to filter out like, no, no, no, this is not going to work. I can tell just by this 360 photo, but it does seem like things may be shifting on some levels and higher levels, especially where they want to actually build out a virtual representation of the building. before they actually build it just to sell the units or just to get ahead of actually having to build it to have people. But it sounds like you're sharing a little bit of a dirty secret of architecture, which is that so much of the reputations are built upon what is essentially a 2D frame of a building, but doesn't take into account the direct embodied experience of what it actually feels like to be in the building. And let alone like looking at it from a distance, a whole other thing. But what are we optimizing for? Are we optimizing for the person on the outside looking in at golden hour of that time? Or are we optimizing for buildings that actually feel great when you're inside of them?

[00:39:20.545] Andreea Cojocaru: So I was looking recently at the winning project of a famous architectural competition here in London, I'm not going to name it, but the renderings, so the project hasn't started yet and this architecture firm used these renderings to visualize what the building would look like. And again the renderings were made in such a style where the sun was setting behind the building There was some beautiful reflections hitting the window in just the right place. There was just shades of beautiful pink and purple and lights were on in the most strange places and corners of that building. And it created this beautiful poetic with a beautiful chromatic that would never ever occur in real life. The decisions that were made, the way concrete was rendered in that image, the way glass was depicted, reflections, sky, colors, people circulating, lights on, lights off, everything were not made based on reality in any way. They were just made to create this visual poetry and atmosphere. that would just never exist in real life. So we've been in this territory in architecture for quite a while now and it seems like we're getting deeper and deeper into it. To the point where my strategy now for my own buildings is to actually render them in a way that makes them as everyday as possible. So I'm gonna render them on a dark cloudy November morning. when the road is dirty and there's some mud on the sidewalk and the sky is gray because I want to give the sense of realness so it's still a fabricated image but if my building can look good on a November morning when the sky is dark gray and there's mud on the sidewalk then that's a good building so going back to what you were saying about real estate now doing virtual tours and everything that's definitely incredibly useful of course but it still worries me in that it's taking the image of architecture into these virtual domains and it's trafficking with architecture and with the value of architecture and everything using these virtual mediums so that's an issue we can't be able to solve and then you also mentioned photogrammetry and if experientially that is the real building well it's not the real building it's something else but I'm not sure I guess the question comes down to is that in a way less valuable than the real building so we agree it's not the real building we agree it's something else it's its own thing and I would say it's not less valuable than the real building

[00:42:40.033] Kent Bye: Well, I guess the deeper question there is that as you're creating a pattern library of these different archetypal representations of how space is oriented, and if you don't have the budget to be able to travel around the world and look at all these buildings in an embodied way, is having a virtual reality architectural tour good enough to get what you need as those primary metaphors to be able to understand the deeper concepts or do you actually really need to be there to have an embodied experience where you're able to freely express your agency and move your body through space without having to worry about all the limitations of locomotion and VR. And you're able to see the light as it was on that day. And you want to see the full holistic experience. Like, is there something that VR can capture? At least a good enough portion of that archetypal spatial representation to be able to build up that pattern library without having to travel around the world.

[00:43:36.257] Andreea Cojocaru: It would be better than photographs, but no, it would not be good enough. There is something about being in a physical space that you cannot substitute, and the easiest way to point out some things that are missing by default would be sounds the sounds the floor makes when you walk on it there is a japanese architect who designs houses based on the sounds materials would make so there are certain rooms that are covered with different kind of materials because he wants to produce different sounds in different rooms when it rains So if you feel like some strong, sharp noises as the water drops hit a certain tin foil, you go into that room. If you want more dull, lulling, falling asleep sound of the noise, then he puts a different surface on the roof and then you go into that room for that experience. So that's a level you cannot record. Touching something. The haptic level of VR is important. Something that I'm personally very sensitive towards is feeling the way materials in a building radiate heat. and cold. That's also something that we learn as architects when we design heating and cooling systems, how certain type of materials, they accumulate and release heat at different rates. And your body actually feels that. So in the winter, if you walk into a room that hasn't been heated, you don't even have to touch the wall. to feel the coldness it emits against the warm skin of your hand. So you can go a few centimeters away and not really touch it, you will feel the impact of that difference in temperature. and as you walk through a building your body will feel those things so you would only become consciously aware of them in such extreme conditions like a building that hasn't been heated up in December normally it works on a more subliminal level But things like this do add up to why virtually walking through a real space that's been photographed does not feel the same as walking through the real space.

[00:46:14.384] Kent Bye: It's fascinating to hear you talk about all this because, you know, coming from a VR background, it's like, wow, the level of subtle perceptual acuity that architects have to develop over time, you're really paying attention to some really subtle aspects of your full embodied experience as you are going into these buildings. totally see why phenomenology has been such a philosophical inspiration for you personally because it's all about paying attention to all those aspects and being able to notice the patterns that you're seeing in the building and then seeing how that's correlating to how that modulates your experience and then to build up that language and that experience to see how the holistic embodied lived experience of that moment is being translated by the space but how that gets translated into how you directly perceive it but there's this subtle acuity that as you're describing your experiences there, that seems like it's a skill that architects have to cultivate over time.

[00:47:11.881] Andreea Cojocaru: Yes. And it's exactly, so some of the skills we have make it easy for us to deal with virtual reality. And some of the skills make it hard for us to deal with virtual reality. So for example, the reason why the architects today, some of them were skeptical about this whole virtual reality is that These issues are so embedded in their understanding of architecture and designing architecture that they see these things as holes. On some level, this makes you think of virtual architecture as stage design. And for us, of course, that's very unsatisfying. That's a great field to be in. But for an architect, you know, of course, you don't want to design something that looks like stage design. But in virtual reality, in the absence of these things that enrich your experience in these subtle ways, like the sound of the rain and the coldness of the floor, It can feel like that, even for me sometimes. So part of my personal journey and struggles being a quote-unquote real traditional architect doing virtual worlds is how do I fill those gaps? With what? So I don't have the rain. I can't hear it in virtual reality. Well, I can, but there is no rain. There is no issue of temperature and all those things. So what do I replace that with? Because I do need that scale of experience. So architecture is not just a visual experience. It's mostly a visual experience, but then there's also some percentages left out, not left out, but there's some percentages left to get the 100% experience that are not visual. and in their absence it can feel superficial so I've been trying to dig as deep as I can into asking questions like what I was talking about today as well for example construction materials so my my early examples with the rain that has to do with the use of certain construction materials that have certain properties that's what's offering us those behaviors the fact that wood accumulates and releases heat at a different rate than stone and then different types of stones have different kind of rates so what are our materials in virtual reality and what are their properties and can I become as a designer more aware of that so that I can pull out of them such subtle changes, such subtle behaviors that do enrich that experience beyond the obviously visual aspect.

[00:50:10.723] Kent Bye: Yeah. You were, you were talking about materials and talking about these primary building blocks of virtual experience and that it's these digital files, like an OBJ file or, you know, and I, my response to that was, yeah, there's actually a deeper structure to that, whether it's polygons or whether it's voxels or whether you're capturing a photogrammetry and putting a texture onto it, or whether or not you're doing a motion capture of somebody walking around and then adding a whole architecture and structure around that primary movement that comes from a human being and there's the depth kit which is looking at these sensors to be able to capture motion and movement but there's lots of different processes of volumetric capture but also file formats that may have different affordances that have different computational efficiencies that are associated with it, or, or shaders and textures that are allowing you to take these primary digital forms and to start to modulate them in different ways. So it seems like that just like the architects have all these experiences of what the fundamental properties like of these building materials, there's heat transfer, which is a property, like what are the equivalent properties that are modulating the phenomenological experience of someone in a VR experience?

[00:51:23.933] Andreea Cojocaru: Right, and I think what I'm looking forward towards, this might already exist, you can tell me that, you probably know, is some virtual reality experiences that go through what minimalism did in art, which is forget about content for a second, forget about the experience, forget about the narrative, make the central character the material. So think of Donald Judd and all the minimalist sculptors who said there's no narrative, I'm just taking a piece of steel and seeing what the piece of steel wants to be and how this piece of steel relates to the human body. And that's it, that's my narrative. so they were finding ways of interrogating the material and I would love to see VR experiences that just focus on the nature of these digital objects and how they can be experienced for quote-unquote what they are without us over imposing our needs for narratives and experience and all these other things we've been exclusively talking about.

[00:52:55.960] Kent Bye: Yeah, there's a couple experiences that come to mind that I've seen. One was called Phenomenology that was at Indicade that was inspired by a group of architectural philosophers that were using light and minimalism in a very specific way. I forget what the name of the group that was inspiring them. I did an interview with a creator, I haven't aired it yet, but it sort of goes into the philosophy that was driving the experience, which as you're in the experience, it's very sparse in terms of you have these spheres and these rooms and light that's coming in and having these different shadows. And it really shows you the dimension of getting this intuitive sense of these different spaces and these different objects. It's so minimalist you are able to really tune into the experience that you're having within those spaces So that was probably the most explicit exploration of that concept of that minimalism that I've seen It's called phenomenology that was at indicate and another project that comes to mind is Ali Al Sami he's an Iranian virtuality developer who got this grant to come to Amsterdam and to do this research into virtual reality and he had a piece called false mirror that was at the IDFA doc lab where a you're able to go into these different rooms. And he actually had buttons on the wall that you could push the button. And when you push the button, all of the textures changed in that room. And it was really dramatic. It was surprising, actually. I had never seen that. But just to put a toggle in there to be able to put a user interface to say, let's swap out all the textures in this room and have the same architecture. But let's see how much we can modulate what this room feels like just by changing what the texture on these walls are. And to me, it was very dramatic just to see how much things change when you change those textures. But I think you could start to do those types of experiments. And I would encourage more people to do that, of these ways of creating a space and being able to do these A-B testing and to quickly swap out the textures or the lightings, be able to do these stress tests to see, because in VR, you're able to do just about anything that you want, then why not? create a multitude of having a singular space, but to start to play with the light or the textures or the materials in different ways to see how your experience changes in that room as you go through all these different changes.

[00:55:08.828] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, exactly. And that's part of what I meant earlier when I said that architects just need to do the work and designers need to do the work. We need to get to the point where we have more of those experiences because yes, the example with the textures is perfect. In the real world, we, do not see any kind of objects that change texture at the hit of a button. So even something as simple as that comes as a surprise to us. But that does reveal part of the nature of the digital object. So while a physical object does not have the ability to do that, a push of a button, a digital object does. So we should investigate more and do experiences more where we rather than over impose things on these digital objects, we should let them be what they are or what they want to be. We should let them reveal more of their nature. This being one of them with the texture.

[00:56:10.772] Kent Bye: And as you're advocating for more architects to do the work, it sounds like that you are doing your own work and your own experiments of really trying to push the philosophical limits of what does it mean to modulate your perception and your consciousness. It sounds like the way that you were describing it, you had some very interesting experiments that you were doing in terms of Being able to do some sort of sensory replacement or sensory addition. Maybe you could explain a little bit of like what type of experiments you've been doing within virtual reality in your spare time.

[00:56:42.383] Andreea Cojocaru: Sure, so there are two directions that I'm interested in experimenting in. One is this idea that each animal is a different way of perceiving the world and that in virtual reality we become a different animal. And this has to do with the idea that we take for granted sometimes when in virtual reality we see in the same way we see in real life that's a bit of an illusion because in virtual reality actually we don't see with our own eyes we see through a digital camera that renders twice for our eyes and the moment you make the slightest changes to the properties of that digital camera you will start to see things differently and you can manipulate that so you can see the way we think a frog sees or the way we think some other animal sees or do none of that and just explore with how it feels to randomly change those properties and become a different animal just develop your own type of vision and i mean that in the most profound kind of way and it goes back to what we said about the true nature of the virtual objects you can program your eyes the camera to interact with those digital objects in certain ways and they can reveal themselves to you in ways that are not even possible when you're so worried about maintaining the parameters of that digital camera so that it perfectly matches the way you see the world in the real life. So there are these degrees of freedom you have to apply to several things in virtual reality to really break true in a way. So one of them, let digital objects show their true nature. Let your virtual eyes show or explore their true nature. by daring to go away from the default settings that come with the VR mode of your game engine. Let go of that and you will see differently, the objects will react differently to you, they will do different things and you will start to walk differently, you'll start to want to look at things in a way that you are not so familiar with. Because things don't reveal their three dimensionality in the way you're used to. So you're approaching objects differently. You don't even know sometimes if they're objects or not. So in total, you are becoming a different animal, exploring different dimension of the world. so in that kind of direction I've also played with things so I've been putting the camera to my feet so while I feel that my physical body has a certain height when I'm in virtual reality the image of the world comes from the level of my feet So that had some interesting effects. And the part that actually gets me both scared and excited is that these effects happen very fast. You know, you don't need to spend days in that situation. They just kind of happen. Some other things I've been doing. So there's a way to have an additional camera in your game engine. that only sees certain objects. So you can put certain objects on a certain layer and then you can have an additional camera and tell this camera, okay, only see the objects on this layer. And then you can render what that camera sees on top of the camera does your eyes. So the consequence of that is that you end up seeing all the objects twice from two different angles. So you see them once from your angles, from your perspective and your eyes, your camera, and then next to them, the same thing from a position three meters right from you. So that also creates some funny situations where you start to kind of question where you are. So you're like, well, am I here or am I three meters right of me? But wait, that can't really be true, right? So very simple things like that create new states of mind in a way. So these are things you cannot test in reality obviously you can and actually there's been some art projects that have been trying to do this actually where it's been trying to trick you that there's the same object in two different rooms for example but then it's not somehow you can't reach that situation in reality. But in virtual reality, those are not two different objects that look identical. That's actually the same object that's shown to you twice. And that's again a situation we've never encountered in real life. It's just like your example, you push the button, the texture changes. simple thing for virtual reality no problem but for us it's like wow what just happened so the same idea what is the same object from different angles wow i mean that's not possible in real life so that's the kind of things I've been playing with. And I think some people might ask, okay, so what's, I mean, what's the point? And I guess on a basic level, well, the point is to look into what's possible to experience as a human being. It's the same thing. Why do people do bungee jumping? Because they want to experience, they want to find out what's the outer limits of what's possible to experience. in this body and in this life and in the creature that you were born into and that's exactly what I'm doing that's my way of doing that so there's some people that have a thirst for that some people have no thirst for it and that's okay some people have a thirst and they choose different ways to deal with that thirst and this is my weapon of choice

[01:04:12.857] Kent Bye: Yeah, it sounds like that you're kind of munging around in unity, adding all these different perspectives, but getting back to this simple principle of sensory addition or sensory substitution where you're able to put new sensory input into your body and if your brain sees a visual pattern to it, it kind of figures it out. It sounds like that. You're almost able to cultivate this dual perspective of this somewhat omniscient perspective from a different angle, but you're seeing it from, as you move your head, at a very specific, like you're clearly able to see the object from another perspective, but as your brain is getting this sensory input that's never experienced before, It's somehow making sense of it and you're figuring it out and then you're blazing these new neural pathways Which then as you come out of these experiences, I would imagine that it's starting to change the way that you perceive reality Yeah, totally

[01:05:04.787] Andreea Cojocaru: I touched upon this a little bit today during my talk and the idea that as we're seeing more and more research coming from cognitive science and neurology, we are moving more and more in the direction towards the belief that the brain has an incredible amount of plasticity. So, that means there are very few things that are actually embedded in the structure of our brain. Most of the things are just being taught. So, when you experience these things in virtual reality, yes, your brain is confronted with situations it has not seen before and then it figures it out, it adapts to it because that's what it does. it learns new ways of making sense of the world because that's what our brain does that's how we survive there's an unfamiliar situation and somehow the brain scrambles and struggles a bit but eventually it just fits it into a coherent worldview. And we are challenged every day in small ways, sometimes in bigger ways. It just happens that I'm constantly searching for experience that would challenge that process in bigger rather than smaller ways. And the brain struggles. Then there is some kind of new unity being achieved, new integration being achieved. But in that change, There's a very subtle shift that happens in the existing situation. It's a little bit like when you exercise, you go to the gym, then if you exercise particularly hard that day, you're gonna have muscle soreness. and that soreness it's actually a good thing because that's when the muscle rebuilds itself and it gets stronger right but then after those two days well you have stronger muscles but then your muscles also have a new state they're in a new state So it's the same thing with these experiences. I'm done with VR, I put a headset on, but it's important to mention the fact that I have stayed in VR long enough for my brain to reach a point where it has found a new consensus. then I'm back into the physical reality and yes it is a new brain and if you push things enough you do get to the point where for a second you have to kind of touch the real wall to see if you go through a period of testing things a little bit and this also plays into this example of the ctrl z that I used today and during the symposium today I told this small story about how when I design real buildings I like to make cardboard models and I like to make that be a very quick process where I cut with scissors piece of cardboard and I make a lot of mistakes and my brain pushes my left hand automatically into the position that would allow my fingers to press ctrl z And it got to the point where I can't control it anymore. It just happens. And I just live with it. It's fine.

[01:08:21.834] Kent Bye: So you're trying to undo a physical cut that you've made in cardboard, a pattern that you've learned by doing lots of things in the computer, but you're trying to do an undo on a real process of cutting cardboard.

[01:08:32.783] Andreea Cojocaru: Yes, exactly. So that's a simple example of how my brain has learned something in a different medium which is a 3d computer program or well these days all computer programs have they will react to control z they will undo go back to previous state so my brain has has learned that it's possible to go back when you make a mistake so when it feels oh I'm unhappy with something it wants to undo it because that's the solution to being unhappy with something when you're in front of the computer it's ctrl z but when you spend too much time doing that your brain does not have any embedded structure that prevents it from thinking that that's always a possibility like there's nothing in your brain that would know okay this is this reality and this is the other reality and or this is the computer program it's just not capable of doing that which is a very scary realization so and i'm not my brain so i know we can't undo things in this reality i still know that i hope so it wasn't me doing that jerk movement with my hand that was totally my brain

[01:09:51.203] Kent Bye: or an embodied habit and behavior that's learned over a lot of times. But it seems like that the larger thrust of what I hear you saying is that just as you would exercise your muscles and get sore, you're kind of exercising the plasticity of your brain and almost pushing it to a breaking point. What comes to mind is this experiment where you wear these set of goggles and you're looking out into the world, but actually flips the world upside down. And that I've never tried this or done this, but what I hear the account is, is that it actually like your brain figures it out and actually flips the world right side up. And then when you take off the glasses, then you're looking at the world and it's still upside down and it takes some time for you to flip it back. And so you're doing these things where you're training your brain to see in a certain way. And then you go back into our consensus reality and that you're still open up this portal of that plasticity to be able to see the world in a specific way, but you start to see things in this weird modulated way until it kind of flips back.

[01:10:51.607] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, that's exactly what's happening. Just that in some cases it does not flip back.

[01:10:57.369] Kent Bye: That's the scary part.

[01:10:59.089] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah. Yeah. And I have not reached that point yet, but I think the next step would be, so now there's the experimenting phase. But I am looking forward to thinking of how these things I'm finding out can be used for something.

[01:11:22.522] Kent Bye: Well, do you think that you're being driven by these deeper philosophical questions or what is it that you're you're looking for in trying to discover or experience while you're doing all these experiments that could potentially be very dangerous? So there's a certain amount of risk that's involved, but there seems to be a deeper curiosity or drive and intention to be able to explore what's possible with the human potential. Or what is it that you what's the story you tell yourself as to why you're doing this?

[01:11:52.048] Andreea Cojocaru: Oh, I think it's just the equivalent of, I don't know, being an adrenaline junkie. I mean, why do people do bungee jumping? there is a certain satisfaction and I think I don't know this but it might even be a chemical process as far as I'm concerned that happens when you are put in this new situation it's like sometimes like a rush of blood to the head you know when you feel your brain trying to figure out that glimpse of something slightly scary and unfamiliar happening before you it's kind of that The excitement when you land in a city you've never been to before and you have no idea where you're going. It's whatever's driving those experiences that's also driving me. So I think philosophy comes secondary to that actually. I think that's more of a basic impulse.

[01:12:54.325] Kent Bye: Yeah, when I was at the American Philosophical Association Eastern meeting in January, I was talking to a philosopher and one of the things he told me was it's actually a thing in philosophy where they try to actively find these philosophies that are so outrageously ridiculous on the surface, but they actually are striving for that cognitive dissonance to listen to the arguments and to like hold in that tension of the paradox of wanting to actually have an honest listening to what the argument is and then slowly potentially even being convinced of seeing the legitimacy of that argument just by keeping that open mind and that there's a certain amount of that journey that comes from that dissonance and the resolving of that tension. That's a form of narrative tension where it's a dissonance and consonance that forms of building and releasing of that tension that I think our brains are kind of built to have that narrative tension that's built and released. For philosophers, it may be cognitive dissonance, and for you, it may be just this experience of creating these perceptual pathways into your brain that you're creating and experiencing something that maybe no one else in the world has ever experienced before, and then you deal with the ripple effects of seeing how you see the world as you come out of those states.

[01:14:09.517] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, and I think another important observation for me was that while the Command Z reflex probably took over 20 years to happen, the stuff in VR are happening way faster. And I think there are already things we're interacting with that are changing our brain. Of course, all this technology, all these chats, all these new things we have in our lives that have to do with the internet and using computers and all of that. All these things are, they are changing us. They are changing our habits, but they're doing it over a period of years. or decades. So we actually, it's too slow for most of us to notice. And we kind of slide slowly into them. They become part of our daily life and who we are in a very, very soft, gradual way. And what was surprising for me about these virtual reality experiments is that They just happen so fast. This process is accelerated in a manner I've never seen with anything else. I can only speculate about why that is. I think it's because it's such an immersive thing where you're all your senses and all your brain is just focused on this thing. There's nothing distracting you from it. Like that's kind of, there's an immediateness that you feel in trying to figure out this strange situation you've been put in. that's something very real and that I think is making the brain react in a very immediate way. But I still think the ease with which VR makes these things happen as a tool is unprecedented.

[01:16:07.324] Kent Bye: Yeah, and it sounds like that you're in some ways looking for a community of other people within the VR community to go on these adventures of these journeys of these experiments with yourself because there's a part of your own sense-making process that sounds like you want to talk to people about it. You want to have like an in-depth conversation like just to have a gut check to see if what you're experiencing is in some ways In some ways you're an architect that's built up a whole pattern library of a whole, all these experiences, and you're also been doing these experiments. And so it's a little unknown as to whether or not what you've already built in your neural pathways that you're able to experience these things, but who knows what other people have experienced. And so it could be that what you're experiencing is very unique to what you've done and everything that you've done up to that point. Or it could be that you've unlocked some sort of new pattern that is pretty universal, that everybody has that experience. And so there's a bit of you wanting to see like, Is this just me or is this something that you've uncovered about an affordance of the human mind and what vr as a medium is able to do Yeah, totally.

[01:17:07.611] Andreea Cojocaru: So that's Like going back to the adrenaline junkie. They do it for the sake of that experience For themselves, they can't really share that And that's it. That's the end. They go home. Maybe they go back to it a week later but i did get to the point where this funny thing happened where i started to get the need to first to get confirmation of some sort and to be able to share it, which was also surprising. I didn't think I would have that because I'm a bit of a loner as an artist in my creative process. I spend a lot of time with myself thinking and with myself in these experiments and I've never gotten the urge necessarily to share these things because I do consider them a bit of like my private worlds. But I got to the point where I wanted to answer, well, is it real? And I ask this question a lot usually rhetorically only to prove to you later that real and reality are meaningless terms. But I find myself asking the question in terms of the shared reality. So I have the need to confirm that these effects are real by having other people also experience them and confirm to me that they've experienced them. And for that, I'm planning on having some live sessions where friends of mine join me live in VR and we run through these things together so we can respond to them together and kind of share what our experience was. Because I guess it's a big question mark. I mean, would different people even respond to these things in the same way? I mean, Not all my friends do the Ctrl Z movement with their hands, right? So... So to what degree do we respond the same? To what degree is this whole idea of the brain plasticity, like what's the distribution curve amongst people for that? So I'm very curious about those answers. And on a very more kind of gut level, I got to the point where I just want someone next to me experiencing it and me saying, well, did you get it? Did you get it? Did you get it?

[01:19:39.212] Kent Bye: Awesome. And so for you, what are some of the either biggest open questions that you're trying to answer or open problems that you're trying to solve?

[01:19:56.023] Andreea Cojocaru: So when I'm in this experimenting mode, I try not to solve any problems. It's a bit like a playground. And these things are quite separate from my other projects. So I'm just playing. I'm not solving anything. And in terms of going next is, it's what I mentioned earlier, which is this thing of having the courage to start to think about designing some of these things with an end in mind or trying to even go backwards and say what is something I would like to have or I would like to do in the physical reality that I cannot and is there a way to train myself in the virtual to produce that change. that then would stay when I'm back in the physical reality and there's something scary about that even as I say it I feel a bit like I'm thinking well should I even say this should I even think this I haven't started I haven't done it but there is an element in that that's kind of scary you know it's almost I will should I even be doing this but then wait a second I'm not talking about anything bad I'm not talking about harming anyone I'm not talking about anything illegal so why am I what's there to hold back from and yet And yet it feels like that. It feels like it's new and somewhat potentially problematic territory somehow, although I can't really put my finger on it.

[01:21:49.107] Kent Bye: Well, to me, it feels like there's a deeper ethical and moral, you know, responsibility as a creator, because you're essentially talking about what could be thought of as a form of digital psychedelics, where you're like, opening up these new pathways into your brain, and you can't guarantee that someone's not going to have like a permanent After-effect of this experience. I suspect that it's safe in the sense of the brain is very plastic And so even if you did do that then I would imagine that there would be some sort of way to undo it through having more experiences, but it's a bit of unknown as to Like in the matrix you're either taking the the red pill or the blue pill and the blue pill you go back to sleep and the red pill you're you're getting awakened to something and it could be the equivalent of this threshold that you're crossing that you're opening up certain aspects of your brain that will forever change the way you see the world and to some people they may want that but for other people they may have been happy in retrospect to just take the blue pill and not have to deal with whatever is opened up and so To me, that seems like the deeper ethical and moral issue is that there is a certain amount of uncertainty of doing this. We don't actually really know what the long-term permanent effects may be. I suspect that it's likely gonna be okay, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend everybody try this because I wouldn't be able to guarantee it. It's more of like, if you're willing to accept this risk, there may be, on the other side of it, unlocking some sort of unknown latent human potential that we don't even know that we have. but that this could be some sort of process of awakening up these new abilities of the human potential that you'd have to go through this exercising of being sore in your brain for a while, doing these various different exercises, and who knows where it's gonna lead, but to me, the unknown aspect of it is what makes it a little bit more of a nebulous ethical and moral issue, where if it was Oculus trying to decide whether or not they were going to accept this and put this on their store, I could say they would pretty clearly not put that into the mass public, but for people who are really big enthusiasts, this may be the perfect type of exploration that those pioneering archetypes of people that are willing to take that risk for that high reward.

[01:24:02.605] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, and this definitely opens up the question of this ethical responsibility of the creators. I mean, I don't have a problem doing it to myself but then let's say i get to the point where i have to decide whether to release these things or not and there will be an ethical component in that i guess and then if i do release these experiences what kind of warning would i even be able to provide when I mean, things like this and this and this could happen to you if you do these things, maybe. Yeah, I don't know. It's an open question.

[01:24:51.239] Kent Bye: Well, just people who are susceptible to seizures, for example, it's a hard time for them to be in environments where there's a lot of flashing lights. And so there may be like a whole class of people that have certain conditions that, you know, maybe you shouldn't be really messing with your perception if you are already susceptible to this class of experiences. But I think the thing that's unknown is that we actually don't know what those risks are and what things that may be connected to these other things that may be you know putting people in this triggering state that catalyzes all these things that are happening in their body that they just need to have The support of people that are around them if they're alone then they're maybe putting their lives at risk for something so things like that is what I what comes to mind for me as I listening to this because there's a is that we don't actually know what the threat vectors are. And so to be able to do the proper consent and disclosure is a bit of like, hey, use this at your own risk. We actually don't know what that is and then how that's communicated within the VR experience, whether it's a warning or whether there's a video or listen to this podcast and they see, okay, hey, we don't actually know. But yeah, I think that's, to me, generally the ethical responsibilities for content creators to be aware of these triggers or trauma or other content that's gonna be sensitive that there will eventually be something like potentially a ratings board or some organization that is helping to figure that out. But I think that there's going to be a little bit of help in terms of like, does this induce motion sickness? Does this have a seizure risk? And there's going to be a certain list of things that you can go down with a checkbox list and see what the design patterns are. And then if you're creating something in those experiences that may be triggering that and just trying to make sure that people are well informed before they, because I think there's going to be a time when this industry evolves where people are going to be very choosy in terms of what types of experiences they're going to be modulating within these immersive environments. Because if people are very sensitive to some of these things, then they're going to want to avoid maybe zombie wave shooters or things with intense depictions of death and violence. That's their right to be able to make that decision to say I'm gonna be really careful of what type of experiences I'm putting into my body. But yeah, I think that trying to figure out exactly what that format is and what those lists of things are at this point, it's still so early that that hasn't actually been formalized in any way for people to be able to give that full level of consent.

[01:27:11.859] Andreea Cojocaru: As you're saying this, something else crossed my mind. So education, will we get to a point in the future where This is what we will be using in schools for kids. I mean, we are doing that already when we make kids, you know, read and write in a certain way and learn things in a certain way. We are kind of guiding them down a certain path of cognitive development. And would these kind of things be just other tools in the box of guiding people towards certain outcomes? I mean, that's totally what we're doing with children in school. We're teaching them how to think in a certain way. We're teaching them how to analyze situations in a certain way, and different cultures do that differently. But now, of course, things tend to kind of globally become pretty homogeneous. But would the things I'm describing be really that different?

[01:28:17.114] Kent Bye: Well, it makes me think of someone like Rudolf Steiner who came up with the Waldorf Schools, which is a whole philosophy for how you educate kids. And it basically is a philosophy that hasn't necessarily crossed the chasm into the mainstream. So it's like this new emergent idea that people within a certain access to the ability to actually put their kids through Waldorf Schools, that it's a very specific educational philosophy, but I don't know if there's any conclusive evidence in terms of looking at a large group of people to see what the actual difference in educational philosophies are. So what I imagine is probably the most likely approach is that there may be this whole immersive education philosophy that gets cultivated, and that maybe there's a certain element of embodied education that is added to something that may feel similar to the Waldorf School, but maybe a certain different edge that has different philosophical frameworks that maybe many different competing branches, but maybe there is this whole branch that does have this really provocative, like, let's make your brain hurt in order to educate you faster. That seems like maybe because you are at a certain level of maturity in your brain development that if you were to do this same process with kids, maybe that's another process where it's like, well, actually the kids' brains, maybe they're even more plastic so you can do even more crazy stuff with kids. Or maybe you're gonna be altering the way that they perceive the world in a way that is just too risky for you to be experimenting in that way.

[01:29:48.830] Andreea Cojocaru: But kids' brains do hurt when they learn things. Most kids' brains hurt when they do math. Do you remember when you first did trigonometry? It's horrible! But you are being taught, your brain is being forced to develop certain patterns of thinking. that it really doesn't want to, it hurts like most kids never get it actually and end up hating it for the rest of their lives but they definitely feel the pain

[01:30:22.340] Kent Bye: I've been going to math conferences and I feel like there's a certain level of trauma that happens within math education and I think that there's new philosophies of moving away from a didactic lecture and trying to do more inquiry-based learning and active learning and not trying to mentally traumatize people into this experience of shame and not really feeling like they can do math. There have been things about math education that have been in that way painful or traumatizing but that there seems to be a whole new philosophy of math education that is currently being adopted that hopefully for the future generations it'll be a little bit less people that just hate math. But I think your larger point is just that the process of learning can be painful and that maybe people who are already on the full train of virtual reality and they're willing to experiment with their kids in different ways because there's again the possibility that this is going to unlock all of these abilities that up to this point kids have never had. So on the other side of this could be like these massive potentials for just accelerated learning. And then the unknowns of that I think are also potentially scary enough for people for them to not experiment in that way. And to me, I don't know, that seems to be like the line where it's already, there's been warnings about, hey, don't put your kids in VR for too long, more than 30 minutes, because actually, because of the accommodation vergence conflict that happens, maybe that's going to change the way that they actually perceive the world. And so there could be things like that, that are equivalent, like, yes, maybe in small doses, this is great, but Let's look at some of the larger effects here where there's maybe more unknowns that are more worrisome than is worth the risk to see what is on the other side.

[01:32:03.302] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, I think using the word children was maybe misguided on my part. I mean, when I said education, it could even be, let's say, college level education, where there's still that process of learning things and cognitive development and growing new cognitive skills that still happen at that level, and they're not kids anymore.

[01:32:24.592] Kent Bye: Yeah, yeah, and I think, yeah, at that level that's fine. And I think one of the things that I was told by Marilyn Schlitz at the Institute of Novelty Sciences is she said, one of the most important skills to have in the 21st century is to be able to deal with paradox, to be able to sit with contradictory information in your mind at the same time, and to be able to sit with the conflict of not knowing how to resolve those paradoxes. And so in some ways this feels like a digitally mediated paradox where you're creating these conflicts within your mind that you're seeing the world from two different perspectives at the same time and how do you resolve it and how do you kind of synthesize that together and there's sort of a way to digitally mediate some sort of perspective shift that could lead to larger shifts. I mean, that's more speculative, but it just, that's what comes to mind is what it could have the underlying theory of, of what this could lead to.

[01:33:16.566] Andreea Cojocaru: Yes. And an important part of, of what you just said is that in this whole process, I have become way more aware of the separation between me and my brain. I'm not me and the consciousness that is me is not the brain and that becomes very apparent in these exercises.

[01:33:44.360] Kent Bye: Like what? What do you experience?

[01:33:47.091] Andreea Cojocaru: well there's for example the struggle of reintegration of putting together again a worldview that was shattered by these paradoxical situations that I put myself in that struggle that's not being done by Andrea that's definitely being done to me that's being done to Andrea I can't stop it for once yeah so I cannot not do it it's being done to me by an automated process that my brain goes through. So I'm also actually excited to have more people become aware of this important distinction between who they are and their consciousness, or they are their consciousness, so between them as consciousness and their brain and it will become apparent very fast in virtual reality once you're confronted to even mild situations like that are paradoxical because I feel like on a daily life people are not aware enough of those things they tend to live this unexamined life sometimes and as the world is becoming more and more complex we cannot sometimes avoid putting in the work and becoming more aware of these realities and I don't mean virtual reality I mean the reality that consciousness and the brain are not the same thing you have access to one but not the other and yet the other one takes control over you sometimes even in situations you wouldn't want it to take control over you. And I think if people were a little bit more aware of that and a little bit more practiced in what those situations are, they would be maybe a little bit more prepared to deal with some of the big challenges of our times, all these issues of controlling the internet and agency and everything.

[01:36:02.023] Kent Bye: Yeah, yeah, because there's a bit of shift in consciousness that a lot of the problems that we're facing in the world is, like, if everybody had a shift in their consciousness to behave differently, then we could solve all of these problems. And so, in some ways, I mean, these are open philosophy of mind questions into whether or not consciousness is emerging as a phenomenon of our brain, or whether or not our whole body is some sort of antenna that is interfacing with some sort of non-local transcendent field of consciousness that is either outside of space and time or if it's somehow more of a panpsychic phenomena or there's many different types of philosophies of the philosophy of mind but it's an open philosophical question that you seem to be interrogating and starting to notice the phenomenological difference between the types of unconscious patterning that may be coming from your brain and and synthesizing all these perceptual input versus your deeper sense of yourself of your agency and your will and your sense of identity that you're starting to see these splits as you do these different VR experiments on yourself.

[01:37:04.545] Andreea Cojocaru: Yeah, so there's a field of agency that belongs to me and there's a field of agency that belongs to my brain and there's some overlap between those two fields. but not a total overlap. And it gets even better. If you take the field of agency of the brain, my consciousness has access to parts of that field, not all of that field, of course. So I do find myself in virtual reality in situations where I have to ask, well, is Andrea doing this or is this being done to me? Can I stop it? So to answer that, the first thing I do is I try to stop it. So if I can't try to stop it, it means it's being done to me by my brain. But what's happening happens to be in an area of the field of agency of my brain that my consciousness has access to.

[01:38:00.449] Kent Bye: Yeah, as I go to the American Philosophical Association and hear these different debates, they're in some ways kind of dissociated and exploring all these different abstractions, but you're taking a very embodied approach of seeing the subtle differences between what you refer to as your brain and what you refer to as your consciousness, and that you're able to, in some ways, have your consciousness do things that are kind of pissing off your brain, because your brain is in pain and not really enjoying the experience. but you have this tension, this conflict between these two different aspects of yourself that you're able to see that conflict within yourself and almost like have a question as to how is this happening? Is it happening to you? Am I doing it? Who's making these choices and who's taking these actions? But in that tension of that conflict, you're almost getting these deeper experiences of these different aspects of yourself that were otherwise completely integrated and working on the same page, but through this conflict you're taking these different polarity points of doing these different actions that are creating these conflicts within yourself.

[01:39:02.250] Andreea Cojocaru: I don't think they were, I don't think those aspects were fully integrated within myself. I think life is about these two things always trying to catching up with each other. and regenerating the internal model of the world but it's happening at a very very slow pace we don't feel it and becoming aware of that usually requires a lot of introspection or just putting a lot of time into various kind of methods of reaching awareness of these things And what VR is doing is just accelerating all of that to the point where I feel the split. And it has to do, for example, with the consistency of the physical world that gives us a smooth ride. And when that consistency is taken away from us, it becomes a bumpy ride. And these things just come out. And these observations also are not... So part of the things I'm doing in VR are triggered by my conceptual interests and philosophical interests. But these things, for example, were not. These were pure side effects, pure observations. they're becoming now like they got my attention now so now i'm starting to look more into the theoretical aspects of those things but initially i wasn't going for that initially i was just observing

[01:40:50.245] Kent Bye: Well, when I was at the Immersive Design Summit, Ida Benedetto had people stand up and sit down to do a little bit of a survey. And she asked people to stand up if they're doing your dream job. And they also had people stay standing up if they're doing your dream job, and you had no idea where that's going to lead next in your career. And there's something about that creative impulse of an artist when you're doing something that you're so creatively passionate about and you have no idea where it's going to go, but you still feel compelled to follow those threads anyway. There's something about that process that that's where you kind of leads you to some sort of like unknown realm and these discoveries that. Had you not been either initially inspired by either the philosophical questions or concepts but or at least at some point Transitioned into more of a phenomenological like listening to your body and following your own intuition as to what's compelling and what you're most curious about Experimenting and creating that that artistic impulse is actually Leading you potentially to something that has much bigger context that you can't even imagine what that might even be right now

[01:41:53.766] Andreea Cojocaru: yeah it's wearing two hats so on one hand it's setting up philosophical questions to be examined in a conscious manner and on the other hand is taking on a more passive role and just being an observer so okay i'm designing these things i'm putting myself into them that's the active part And then I just stand there and I stand there and wait for interesting things to happen to me. And I guess it's the reverse focus or the reverse kind of things happening or effects than what most VR experiences offer when they say experience. they have an environment that you interact with or where things are just happening so the effect is just in this changing environment right that's the bulk of vr applications whereas the stuff that i'm doing I'm making the setup and then it's just frozen there. I mean, it's just a room or a space. There's no interactivity. There's nothing happening. I'm not pushing any buttons. I'm just standing there waiting for things to happen, but not in the environment. So while in a typical VR application, you're standing there waiting for something to happen in that environment. I'm standing there knowing very well that nothing, absolutely nothing is going to happen in the actual environment because it's static. I'm standing there waiting for things to happen inside me. and many times they do happen so it's a different kind of perverse spectacle right so the spectacle is not being given to me by the outside or it is being given to me but in a very indirect way so this static environment has the power to trigger a spectacle inside me and that's the spectacle of this game I'm noticing where I'm just passively there as an observer between my consciousness and the brain and who's doing what to me and at what speed and at what level.

[01:44:34.183] Kent Bye: Yeah, no, it sounds like you're cultivating and developing your own sort of style of this artistic practice, which is being driven by your own phenomenological experience rather than what other people may think about it. It's more, you want to see what other people, if they're experiencing the same thing, but you seem to be exploring these subtle phenomenological aspects of creating these scenes and almost like this minimalist approach, but trying to focus on very specific experiences that you're trying to cultivate within yourself.

[01:45:02.786] Andreea Cojocaru: yeah I guess I should start a new type of virtual reality experience where the insides of your mind are the show so the VR is triggering that so your consciousness is one of the actors on the stage but then it's also the only tool you have to witness what's happening on that stage, but yeah, that's where the show takes place.

[01:45:34.196] Kent Bye: What's it called?

[01:45:36.016] Andreea Cojocaru: Oh, good question. I don't know. I haven't, I have to think about it.

[01:45:38.738] Kent Bye: Okay. Great. And, uh, and finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality is and what am I able to enable?

[01:45:52.398] Andreea Cojocaru: So in the context of this discussion, the ultimate potential is to help people become aware of the show inside their own heads.

[01:46:07.968] Kent Bye: What's that going to do?

[01:46:11.070] Andreea Cojocaru: For some people, maybe nothing. For some people, hopefully, maybe change their life. It's made me more aware and appreciative of the kind of animal that I'm discovering that I am.

[01:46:33.862] Kent Bye: Great. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?

[01:46:40.205] Andreea Cojocaru: Thank you again for having me. It's always just fantastic talking to you. And I never know where the discussion is going to take us, but it always takes us to great places.

[01:46:51.920] Kent Bye: Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much.

[01:46:53.682] Andreea Cojocaru: Thank you.

[01:46:54.903] Kent Bye: So that was Andrea Kashukaru. She's got a design firm called Numina VR, and she's a traditional architect as well as a programmer who's designing virtual experiences as well as designing real buildings. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, Well, unfortunately missed this whole discussion between the broader faculty of the architectural association with Frederick and Laura and Andrea and other people participating in the symposium on the immersive architecture of the internet. But there seemed like to be a certain level of skepticism of different aspects of virtual reality experiences and It was really interesting to hear Andrea's response to that. For one, she's saying that, well, all architecture is in this realm of modulating consciousness and more of a soft media rather than focusing too much on the hard concrete aspects of materiality and the physicality of these built objects. And just how there's all sorts of ways in which architecture can modulate our mind and our consciousness in ways that are similar to any other type of media. There seems to be a very strong connection between utility for what things are being designed for, like what's the use of specific spaces and a strong connection from the architectural design tradition to be able to really interrogate those uses and understand them fully. And then to be able to design spaces that try to solve those very specific problems. And so just the idea that you would have this open ended, like this could be used for just about anything that you could possibly imagine, including things that we don't even know exist yet. what Andrea is saying is that it's kind of putting the architects into this brain freeze of not willing to kind of dive in and just start seeing how much the architects have to contribute to how this whole space evolves. So she seemed just a little surprised that there was even up to her debate that this is something that architects would be able to help contribute to and to participate in. But since I wasn't there, it's hard for me to comment beyond what some of these secondhand accounts that I got from Andrea. But my sense is that there's certainly a whole faction of different architects who are super excited to be able to really push the edge of what's possible with this new immersive technology. And especially trying to figure out some of the primary elements and metaphors for looking at design and aesthetics and style and the different meaning that can be embedded within these spatial designs and these virtual representations. And that, you know, the Architectural Association is an institution that's very highly regarded. And it's well known for bringing in these different types of conversations and experts from many different fields to be able to have these different types of conversations. And so the design process for architects is something that is still somewhat mysterious in terms of how this all works. There's a certain amount of magic that happens, but the idea is that by going through all this training, you get some sort of like theoretical guidance and so that you are having some agency that you're able to exert within this mysterious design intuition process, that it has some sort of framework that you can follow and that it's not completely unguided, but that you're able to go through this process to learn some of the critical theory and then to go through these different practices to be able to cultivate a whole new generation of architects. It was also interesting to hear Andrea's perspective, which was to just do the work. You know, we need to see a lot more architects building immersive spaces within these virtual reality experiences. I think Andrea had been very interested in some of the more 2D representations of the films that she had saw, but she also was just wanting to see more examples of people actually building out different examples of immersive architecture. I know her experience that I saw at VR now, I remember it was like this more mundane, like training how to use these medical devices, and maybe just kind of like trying to sell the different features of them. And you kind of enter into the space by seeing a very well-designed space. And at the very end, you start to float through this whole bone-like structure that was added as a bonus, but it wasn't really needed for the story that was being told and to be able to sell these different medical objects, but it just kind of filled me with this whole sense of awe and wonder. And immediately after I saw it, I asked her, I was like, wow, are you an architect? Because that was very interesting, what type of thing you were doing with spatial design. And we talk about that a lot in episode 719, where she kind of unpacks what she had done in that very specific experience. But It was an example for her of these experiments that she's able to do and build these different types of architectures that you'd be impossible to do either from physics or amount of resources or just the logistics that would be involved to be able to actually do this kind of replica of what the microscopic bone structure would look like if you were to zoom in so close. And that was kind of the thing that you are moving through at the very end of her experience that she actually won an award for there at VR Now. And it sounds like that a big part of an architect is to build up this pattern library of different experiences. And it really stuck with me what she said about how one of her professors said that one of the things that you have to be able to be willing to do when you're traveling to a city is to be willing to be kicked out of a lot of buildings, meaning you go into places that you're not really supposed to be in, but you really want to try to get a full immersive experience of as many different buildings as you possibly can. and build up your own pattern library of these different situations and contexts and to see how different architects have solved those very similar problems and then for you to have this direct embodied experiences of that and to be able to then build up your own repository of options as you go in and to do your own architectural work. So that's just the process of building up your own language capacity to have these direct experiences to then have those to reference. And it was interesting for Andrea to say that it's very similar process to what happens in VR. And I completely agree is to try to get out there and see as many different virtual reality experiences as you can to see the different elements of an experience and what's kind of universal. What are the different design patterns? And that's led me to my own process of trying to summarize and come up with these different categories and archetypal dimensions of different trade-offs that you have as you're designing different immersive experiences. But for Andrea, I was really super curious to see like, well, to what extent can you build up this type of pattern library of spatial experiences? Can you offload that to virtual reality? Can you go around the world and capture all of the best architectural implementations. And then, you know, instead of traveling around the world to see everything face to face and embodied, is it good enough to see it in a virtual reality experience? And I think, you know, as I was talking to her about, you know, the difference between seeing a building in real life and seeing a photogrammetry representation of something, she said, it's not the same as being actually there in the physical building and that it is a representation and it's certainly a lot better than photographs, but there's still something that is missing then. actually being in these different spaces. And some of the things that she was talking about are the different sounds and the acoustics for how sound travels through spaces. And that's a really huge thing, especially for architectural pieces that are specifically looking at the nuances of the different sounds of looking at rain in different rooms and having sharp and dull ways of being able to explore that. This is some discussions that I've had with other people of looking at the future of either real-time physics simulations of audio or to just be willing to give more CPU power to some of these second and third and fourth and fifth order reflections of audio. And so I do see that, you know, one of the next phases in virtual reality is to be really focusing on acoustics. And one of our most spatial senses that we have is our hearing. And we're able to locate things spatially as we're hearing things, but just be able to hear the echoes from a room makes a huge difference into giving you a sense of a place. And so the lack of that within the virtual representation of these virtual experiences, you're losing quite a bit. But there's also quite a lot around like how light reflects off different parts of the building, how the light changes over the course of the day. Also, just like the way that the materiality of the building captures heat and does the heat transfer. So there's all these aspects of what it means to actually be in a physical space that when you start to do a virtual representation, we start to fine tune our different elements to see like what's it take to actually give us this deep sense of being in a very specific place. So I think to be able to simulate all these things, it's going to take quite a long while, and maybe we'll never quite get there. And we'll always know the difference between a virtual simulation and actually being in a physical place. This is something that Jaron Lanier suspects is that the more that our virtual simulations improve, the more that our own perceptual input is going to be refined to be able to notice the difference between the virtual and the real. And maybe that's just part of the process is to be able to interrogate our depth of perception so that we're able to notice the nuances of these subtle differences, and then be able to really pay attention to what's unfolding in this natural world. And then the whole last part of this conversation was super fascinating. Andrea had alluded to some of these things over the course of the day, talking about how she was putting cameras on her feet. And she talks about in this conversation, how She's putting multiple cameras within a space so that she's able to cultivate a way of seeing objects from multiple perspectives at the same time. And it really reminds me of like these deeper mathematical geometric forms that go beyond just like a Cartesian space, looking at these other ways in which you can actually see an object from two different perspectives at the same time. And so there are actually like geometric spaces that afford for that without having to have like extra additional cameras. It's just the way that the. the space is shaped that we have different geometric foundations for that. So I do expect that eventually we're going to go into a lot more of these different types of exotic geometries and like what's it mean to be able to go beyond just like our 3D Euclidean space and then go into these different types of geometric experiences and what type of things are going to be unlocked in the way that we exist as spatial beings within these alternative geometries. So I have an interview that I'll get into at some point with a mathematician getting into a lot of these higher order geometries. It's actually in the context of a math conference, but it really came up when I was hearing Andrea talk about seeing the same object from different perspectives and it really making her question her sense of her body and her place and where she's located and as she's moving through a space and trying to orient in your mind how you can make sense of all these different aspects of a virtual experience when you have these multiple perspectives that are coming into your sensory input all at the same time. And it sounds like just a simple matter of being a bit of a journal and junkie of trying to push the limits of our own perception. to see how she can hack and break her perception and consciousness and then come out of the experience and then see how she sees the world differently. So it sounds like that she's really just experimenting on herself and she's just super curious about it and wants to see if what she's experiencing is something that is a universal experience, that other people will experience the same thing. Or maybe it's just her that she's having these very specific experiences based upon all of her other accumulation of different experiences and ways of thinking of things. And so she wants to start to have people that she's able to share these different types of experiences with and be able to just talk about what's happening with her own experiences of it. And in the previous conversation, we talked a lot about some of these deep philosophical questions that are really motivating a lot of her work. And we talked a little bit about that here, but mostly it seems like there's this whole other new strand of direct phenomenological experiences that she's having and really pushing her own perception to the limits of what's possible and it's like this passive consumption of Spaces that are trying to invoke these different inward experiences and it's much more about just designing a space Not trying to have any type of direct interaction but to see how the space can maybe invoke certain states of internal being what's happening inside of her body and so I much more creating a context in a space, providing her a platform, a vehicle to be able to have some type of really deep inward experience within herself. So super fascinating. I'm really curious to see where this ends up going. I expect to see that this may be a trend for other folks as well, to find this novelty aspect of virtual reality, uh, searching for this adrenaline junkie for the limits of bounds of human perception, to see how you can start to expand the amount of sensory input that you can take. And then to see how plastic our brains are to be able to adapt to treating her body like an animal. And as you're an animal in these virtual worlds, like what kind of animal can you become and what kind of sensory input can you put into your sense of being and be able to understand and process and grok and create new capacities of what it means to be human. Which, you know, there's a lot of work that is done in the fields of sensory addition and sensory substitution and being able to add new levels of our perceptual input that's coming through our normal perceptual process. But, you know, finding new ways that we can start to detect and discern different experiences that are happening in these virtual worlds and perhaps would only be possible within these virtual worlds. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast, and if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is an initial support of the podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can donate and become a member today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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