Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
-Arthur C. Clarke
This proposal is the exploration of what is possible when a creative space such as Arcosanti fully embraces technology and the emerging realities within it.
Arcosanti, an Urban Laboratory and Prototype Arcology in the Arizona high desert, is home to over 50 years of innovation. A self selected community of around 80 full time residents and an extended community of over 9000 alumni have all contributed to its construction and growth.
Currently, a group of technology wizard residents at Arcosanti use it as a laboratory for developing incredibly unique experiences based around this space. For example, Rob Jameson, started a smart lighting project at Arcosanti about 2 years ago, called LAMP, with over 10,000 individually controllable LEDs installed within our amphitheater and more lights throughout our site. Adam Taylor, a theater and lighting professional later joined to help program and expand the LAMP project, helping to show the systems full potential.
Meanwhile, Seth Winslow, a 3D artist and architecture visualizer was working in the Arcosanti Archives. Developing and showcasing a real-time architectural and educational VR experience based on a digital twin of Arcosanti, visualizations of future development plans, and theoretical arcology designs all within the Unreal Engine.
Chase Bowmen has also been independently developing a mixed reality system for the Microsoft Hololens that allows for real world interaction with light and sound. Using Arcosanti as the physical reality to host his MR system, Chase has been blurring the lines between technology and magic. Together, we realized we can combine Rob, Adam, Seth, and Chase’s work to make an incredibly powerful and magical experience.
All of these developments have come together in a beautiful harmony, enabling sensory communication across realities. With the use of OSC the VR user can be in a digital twin of Arcosanti sending signals to the LAMP project and MR user(s) can see that signal and respond back in the same way, we are just now exploring what this can mean for educating and storytelling.
We have already had a myriad of incredible "Hello World" moments with these systems and are discovering the smallest interactions between these systems opens up worlds of possibilities.
Right now we have these three projects being developed in parallel, all far enough along in their own mediums to be exciting independently. Even with the educational VR project, the sensory LAMP project, and the innovating MR project all breaking ground on their own merits, the part that excites us the most is how these systems can interact given the resources to expand upon them.
Before applying to this grant we talked for months about the potential and possibilities of what might happen if we were able to connect VR, MR, and RL in this incredible context. Now that time has come, all of what we’ve talked about has a platform to become a reality with the Unreal Engine acting as the common ground and bridge between them.
Our plan is to build and use all of these systems as creative frameworks so we can not only educate and tell stories for the Cosanti Foundation in a completely unique way, but also open up these tools to be used by students , artists, and creatives, to build their own experiences. Our goal is to empower others to play, create, and learn in VR, MR, and RL, using Arcosanti as our hub. This site hosts workshops, interns, schools, multiple music/arts festivals per year, and has approximately 40,000 guests per year. With these tools available to our collaborators the possibilities are endless and with the tenure and guidance of The Cosanti Foundation behind us, we have the ability to build a truly immersive and unique XR environment.
In short, Arco XR is the platform to create experiences and tell stories in a new way, and the reality of what can happen when we have the means to expand upon all of our individual platforms in parallel at Arcosanti. The Cosanti Foundation is asking for $500,000 to expand our XR potential by turning this site into an immersive educational playground that brings users into the architectural reality and potential of Arcosanti, incorporating expansions of our smart Light/Sound and IOT systems throughout the site with VR + AR control and interaction to make this prototype future city realized.