While a good majority of panels and projects at this year’s SXSW Interactive centered around the NSA and government surveillance, interactive installation StreamMeUp offered a lighthearted alternative to the discussion on where advancements in technology can lead us as a society. Created in collaboration between Microsoft Studio and an impressive team lead by artist and acting Technical Director James George—with art direction and design by Something Savage studio—the unbranded science fiction–inspired installation was a response to what was essentially an emerging technology-based art commission. With the help of four Kinects and a virtual reality headset, conference goers were given the opportunity to see a digital transmission of themselves on a series of far off planets. “It’s like a Vine, for aliens,” joked George.
Four calibrated Canon 5D Mark III cameras paired with Kinect sensors would capture six seconds of action by the individual or group of participants. You then watch as your virtual self is teleported off the capture space ship screen. Next, you’re physically led to a seated area where an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset allows you to visually explore three alien environments and interact with local lifeforms. The use of team members as guides helps lessen any intimidation created by the technology while also strengthening the narrative and storytelling. Monitors display a single view of what is displayed in the two-eyed Oculus, giving spectators a direct view at what each participant sees.