Blurring the Lines Between Virtual Reality and the Present, Brian Eno and Microsoft Presents Bloom: Open Space

by Flaunt Intern

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Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in the royal circle at the orchestra. You hear the bray of tuning violins and cellos. The string players are in position—their bows over the strings, and the flutists ready their fingers like poised birds over their keys. They look forward, anticipating their maestro, their composer, to begin the delicate and intricate order of what will be a symphony. They look to you. Anticipating the first composition. You have suddenly become the composer.

Musician, producer, visual artist, and thinker Brian Eno and longtime collaborator, musician/software designer Peter Chilvers have created an application that blurs the fine line of what we perceive as reality and virtual fantasy. Now open to the public in The Transformatorhuis (Trafo House) at Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, Bloom: Open Space, is a new mixed reality generative music experience that allows virtual reality users to create images and patterns, creating unique melodies while tapping and waving with the simplest hand gestures.

Brian Eno Flaunt Feature

“Bloom came out of a little experiment,” said Bloom Co-Creator and Lead Developer, Peter Chilvers. “Where it was just creating a shape on the screen, having expand or disappear was just a simple tech demo, and there was something quite charming about it, quite instantly.” The experience explores the realm of both applications and generative art, providing a platform for, not just artists, but the ordinary individual to create and become immersed in a new and uncharted world. “The music ex-tech program is about empowering artists to create and experience music in new ways,” says Strategic Partnership Director and Microsoft Brand Studies, Amy Sorokas. “To take their application, Bloom, into mixed reality.”

The installation will be open Sunday, February 25, 2018 where guests have access to Microsoft’s HoloLens to physically experience the application. Once immersed in the system, they will lift their hands, to pinch, tap, and caress the air as large screens show outside guests the intimate experience within. “It’s a sense of magic, actually,” says Chilvers. “You can actually touch something in the air and see it become a real thing in front of your eyes.” Art is a fine and beautifully elaborate veil between reality and fantasy. It allows us to see, to experience, but within a distance. With Bloom, the veil is pulled back, and the threshold of reality and virtual fantasy is blurred.

We return to the orchestra. As your hands come down and the reverberation of the music finally fades, you are left with the filling silence of satisfaction. You are invigorated by the power and innovation of creating and composing. You project your signature, your image in the pattern of music. The veil is pulled back, and you exit with the fantasy still intact.

written by Leslie Gonzalez