Only something truly special could result when tech meets art.
At least that’s the case with Microsoft Vancouver’s current passion project – a 3D printed raven mask that is the result of a creative collaboration with Heiltsuk artist, Shawn Hunt.
“I wanted to work with the Microsoft designers and engineers on a collaboration that explores authenticity and our expectations of what it means to be indigenous,” explains Hunt.
But this isn’t your everyday artwork. Aptly titled, Transformation Mask, it delves into an altered reality, opening up to reveal HoloLens.
“The mask appropriates the traditional aspects of a transformation mask, in this case from bird to human, but the human has been altered, upgraded and merged with the machine,” explains Hunt. “It’s like human 2.0.”
This is what makes the masterpiece truly interactive, even for the onlooker. For the wearer, it’s a full audio visual experience, featuring a series of drawings created by Hunt in VR and rendered as holograms.
According to Jeremy Kersey, Senior Technical Artist at Microsoft Vancouver, the project helps us look at tech within an unconventional creative context.
“Computer graphics in video games are not considered art by traditional standards, but being able to take those skills and use them to visualize and fabricate this work, I hope it brings an appreciation for the complexity and the artistry of what we do,” says Kersey.
So, what are people seeing when they step into the mask? Bursts of holographic sparks, smoke and fire, out of which a series of 3D animals emerge into the real world. You can actually still see the room around you and any people in it. That’s the brilliance of mixed reality.
And what does it take to design an innovative work like this? More than 275 hours of 3D printing in Microsoft’s maker space, The Garage, and hundreds more to automate the mask and design the experience.
Andy Klein is a Senior Designer at Microsoft Vancouver and was part of the team. It was his passion for culture and tech that inspired him.
“I have a strong love for our coastal environment and the history of its people, and this was an opportunity to have that collide with my passion for holograms. Art comes in many forms, can easily transcend cultures and utilize technology to become something new. Life is all about these infinite possibilities and combinations,” said Klein.