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Chronicles of an Aeronaut (VR + Oil Painting) - 2021

this project is generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council

VR empowers me to explore a 2D visual reference as a 360 degree plane. Within this environment, I was inspired to play with a sense of infinite perspective and interact with its simulated height. The advantage of using VR as a tool for process was being able to experiment in virtual space with the skybox, delicately exploring each terrain in different times of the day. The skybox is a catalyst of immersion, enveloping the viewer within the corners of the cosmos. The purpose of this project was to create a series of three oil paintings, using virtual reality as the introductory tool of production and process to conceptualize compositions.


Watching the invisible ocean of air that we live in, it's hard to forget that our bodies do not end at the lining of the skin. Our existence is not bound by physical presence. Consider this an invitation to feel the forms, plights and sensitivities of other species. Consider this an invitation to broaden your sensoria, to understand the mystery of existence through the eyes of the other. Mixing the spirit of poetry and the spirit of science, the flights of the early aeronauts, the travelers of the sky, transformed our view of the world. These atmospheric adventures captivate every human's inner soul, as the medium which forms the aeronauts practice is air,  the same medium which fills our lungs everyday; the medium in which we live, die, move, and exist in.  "Chronicles of an Aeronaut" is a project that creates connections between futuristic and analogue image making techniques. Using virtual reality and painting, my objective is to create a series of oil paintings that are inspired by the aeronauts fascination with our world, and their desire to explore and reach new heights never reached before. I am specifically inspired by the sketches and words of meteorologist, aeronaut and astronomer, James Glaisher in in his 1971 journal, Travels in the Air.  At the heart of the below renders lies a hot air balloon, the traveling vehicle. The balloon exists in an empty landscape, coexisting with birds and butterflies. During the travels of the early aeronauts, birds were used as a measurement for oxygen levels. As the aeronauts ascend further up into the skies, they would release birds, some would fly down and survive, and some drop down towards earth like a stone drowning in the ocean, having no chance of survival because of the low oxygen levels. The spirits of the birds embody the ghosts that exist in this world.

James Glaisher charted his balloon’s path in 1862,  England. (Travels in the Air)

Terrain Modelling & Textures

(Houdini Side FX & Substance Designer/Painter)

Phase 1 is VR world-building, and Phase 2 is oil painting. In the first step of VR world-building,  I used Houdini and Substance Designer/Painter to create terrain explorations. The terrains include  mountains, cliffs and dunes, craters, islands, and finally canyons. These terrains act as the location where the journey of the aeronaut will take place.

Mountains  - Terrain modelling and height mapping in Houdini Side FX

Mountains - Terrain erosion mapping in Houdini Side FX

Mountains - Terrain texturing using erosion maps in Substance Painter

Cliffs & Dunes - Terrain modelling and height mapping in Houdini Side FX

Cliffs & Dunes - Terrain erosion mapping in Houdini Side FX

Cliffs & Dunes - Terrain Texturing using Erosion Maps in Substance Painter

Craters - Terrain modelling and height mapping in Houdini Side FX

Craters - Terrain erosion mapping in Houdini Side FX

Craters - Terrain Texturing using Erosion Maps in Substance Painter

Islands - Terrain modelling and height mapping in Houdini Side FX

Islands - Terrain erosion mapping in Houdini Side FX

Islands - Terrain Texturing using Erosion Maps in Substance Painter

Canyons - Terrain modelling and height mapping in Houdini Side FX

Canyons - Terrain erosion mapping in Houdini Side FX

Canyons - Terrain Texturing using Erosion Maps in Substance Painter


VR Skybox & Perspective Studies (Unity)

Exploring the landscapes of Mountains, Cliffs and Dunes, Craters, Islands and Canyons with various skyboxes   (4 AM, 5 AM, 4 PM and 5 PM) with various perspectives (straight view, over cloud view, aerial view, birds eye view, and butterfly view).

Mountains - 4 AM & Birds Eye View

Mountains - 5 AM & Aerial View

Mountains - 4 PM & Over Cloud View

Mountains - 5 PM & Butterfly View

Cliffs & Dunes - 4 AM & Butterfly View

Cliffs & Dunes - 5 AM & Straight View

Cliffs & Dunes - 4 PM & Over Cloud View

Cliffs & Dunes - 5 PM & Birds Eye View

Craters - 4 AM & Birds Eye View

Craters - 5 AM & Butterfly View

Craters - 4 PM & Over Cloud View

Craters - 5 PM & Straight View

Islands - 4 AM & Aerial View

Islands - 5 AM & Straight View

Islands - 4 PM & Butterfly View

Islands - 5 PM & Birds Eye View

  Canyons - 4 AM & Birds Eye View

  Canyons - 5 AM & Butterfly View

  Canyons - 4 PM & Straight View

  Canyons - 5 PM & Aerial View


Equirectangular Renders (Unity)

Phase 1 begins with a VR world and ends with an equirectangular image. Equirectangular projection is a term that refers to the default output format of a 360 panorama image. Traditionally equirectangular images are plugged into a third party that enables you to view the image in 360. With this series I was more intrigued with using the 360 format without the plug in. This creates a paradoxical image that is both flat, and has a 360 degree view. The curvature in the horizon line creates the illusion of infinity, where the non linear perspective distorts the experience of viewing this image, making it difficult to know where the earth ends and where the sky begins. VR is used as a tool to create compositions that play with perspective, scale, depth and vanishing point.

Canyons -  4 AM & Aerial View

Canyons -  4 AM & Aerial View + Equirectangular

Canyons - 4 AM & Birds Eye View

Canyons - 4 AM & Birds Eye View + Equirectangular

Craters - 4 AM & Birds Eye View

Craters - 4 AM & Birds Eye View + Equirectangular

Mountains - 4 AM & Birds Eye View

Mountains - 4 AM & Birds Eye View + Equirectangular

Cliffs and Dunes - 4 AM & Butterfly Eye View

Cliffs and Dunes - 4 AM & Butterfly Eye View + Equirectangular

Craters - 4 AM & Butterfly Eye View

Craters - 4 AM & Butterfly Eye View + Equirectangular

Mountains - 4 AM & Butterfly View

Mountains - 4 AM & Butterfly View + Equirectangular

Craters - 4 AM & Birds Eye View

Craters - 4 AM & Birds Eye View + Equirectangular

The Final 3 Chosen Renders

1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

Composition 1

Composition 1 - Image Render

The image below is the equirectangular render of the Canyon landscape, at 4 AM, with an aerial view perspective. This image will be the composition and color reference for Painting 1.


Composition 1 - 8K 360 Video

This video is a 360 documentation of a 24 hour cycle in the Canyon landscape, the chosen composition for Painting 1. Please toggle 8K for best viewing.


Composition 1 - 2K Video

This video is a documentation of a 24 hour cycle in the Canyon landscape, the chosen composition for Painting #1. Please toggle 2K for best viewing.

 

Composition 2

Composition 2 - Image Render

The image below is the equirectangular render of the Mountain landscape, at 4 AM, with an aerial view perspective. This image will be the composition and color reference for Painting 1.


Composition 2 - 8K 360 Video

This video is a 360 documentation of a 24 hour cycle in the Mountain landscape, the chosen composition for Painting 2. Please toggle 8K for best viewing.


Composition 2 - 2K Video

This video is a documentation of a 24 hour cycle in the Mountain landscape, the chosen composition for Painting 2. Please toggle 2K for best viewing.

 

Composition 3


Composition 3 - 8K 360 Video

This video is a 360 documentation of a 24 hour cycle in the Mountain landscape, the chosen composition for Painting 3. Please toggle 8K for best viewing.


Composition 3 - 2K Video

This video is a documentation of a 24 hour cycle in the Mountain landscape, the chosen composition for Painting 3. Please toggle 2K for best viewing.


Oil Painting - Phase 2 (WIP)

The second phase is using oil painting to paint the virtual compositions, mimicking their sense of infinite perspective and perceptual depth. Inspired by the sketches and travels of meteorologist, aeronaut and astronomer, James Glaisher, a surreal and fantasized virtual environment is created in Houdini/Unity. This environment will enter our physical world in the form of a painting. Virtual reality is chosen as the first medium, not to produce the final result but as a tool in the production pipeline. Using the translucency and delicacy of oil paints, the sensation of infinite depth will be translated to the painting through layers of paint. The final three paintings are a work in progress.

Composition #1, 42" X 36", Oil on Wood Panel

Composition #2, 42" X 36", Oil on Wood Panel

Composition #3, 42" X 36", Oil on Wood Panel