Remote Realities Residency


conceptual verification with test subject feedback

Tosca Hidalgo y Terán, Sara Lisa Vogl

Boreal forests, or taiga, represent the largest terrestrial biome. Forests occupy approximately one-third of Earth’s land area, account for over two-thirds of the leaf area of land plants and contain about 70% of carbon present in living things yet despite this significance, humankind continue to have an unbalanced, parasitic like relationship to this important biome.  

Ultimately, it is up to the Humans and how they respond within this environment that determines how the non-humans react and respond. Whether the non-Humans choose to pair for Symbiosis, which can lead to evolution or Dysbiosis, which can end in a COVID-19 scenario, or worse. 

Terán and Vogl met during New Nature, An Immersive Media and Climate Science Exchange between Canada, Germany, Mexico, and the US hosted by the Goethe-Institut Montreal, curated by Samara Chadwick that took place in May 2020. 

Terán’s practice resides in physical, material and sound based works. Vogl’s immersive VR environments and expertise, in combination, take both practices into another realm; combining material/physicality with VR which will culminate in a multi-sensory experience.

For the Remote Realities residency Terán and Vogl proposed a fully immersive, mixed reality experience working with AR/VR, living mycelium biodata-sonification, EEG and, soft-circuit-tactile interfaces. The virtual environment is home to microbial and fungal organisms that dwell in dirt, air, and water within a Boreal forest. 

Due to COVID restrictions Terán, and Vogl worked together towards a scaled down, conceptual verification, with test subject feedback. Within their VR environment realtime fungal biodata-sonification reacts and responds to human touch. 

In order to integrate living mycelium biodata within the VR environment neuroscientist/media artist Brendan Lehman was brought into the project. Brendan’s expertise in coding EEG data interactions in VR was a perfect match. Working with Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) and Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster mushrooms), and Tosca’s bio-sonification modules realtime fungal reactions were brought into Unity. 

For the touch aspect Valve Index ‘knuckle’ Controllers are being used. Valve Index Controllers let you reach out and grab an object directly. Each controller uses 87 sensors to track hand position, finger position, motion, and pressure to determine user intent. Every hand is different, so the controller constantly re-calibrates itself to match your hand size and changing skin capacitance. Vogl intends to further develop touch nuances for the VR experience. 

This is a work in progress. 

symbiosis-dysbiosis poster

On October 19th, 2020 Terán, Vogl, Lehman and artist Lorena Salomé were awarded a New Nature R&D grant from the Goethe-Institut Montreal for Symbiosis/Dysbiosis.                The Jury, comprised Christina Landbrecht, Program Director, Schering Stiftung: Connecting Art and Science, Marie-Pier Gauthier, Producer, National Film Board of Canada, Montreal Interactive Studio, and Paola Santos Coy Licona, Director, Museo Experimental el Eco, Mexico.

Tosca Hidalgo y Terán 

Tosca’s role intersects with the other collaborators through bringing living mycelium, and plant bio-data into the mixed reality environment, building the tactile interfaces, and soundscapes.

Sara Lisa Vogl 

Sara Lisa’s role intersects with the other collaborators through working with Brendan in the VR/Unity environment, developing touch interactions with the Valve/VIVE headsets and controllers, and the purpose built tactile interfaces.

Brendan Lehman

For this project, Brendan is a Programmer; working in Unity to connect the biodata and audio hardware with meaningful in-game interaction.

Lorena Salomé 

For this project, Lorena is programming and working with Tosca to develop and produce electronic circuits using Arduino and biosensors to interact within the mixed reality environment (tactile interfaces). Create a system where the Arduino board will send and receive info to and from the VR world.

@symbiosis.dysbiosis on Instagram 

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