Water! Water! Everywhere! But not a drop to drink!
April 18, 2017 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Pippin Barr's v r 3 is a virtual museum of digital water.

Why make a water museum?
As part of the Speculative Play project I'm a part of I became interested in the idea of a game which is entirely about tech fetishism. Water is perhaps the archetypal technology we use to assess how "good" a game engine or game is in terms of realism, a kind of benchmark. I liked the idea of a speculative future in which, rather than playing a game with water in it, people would choose to simply contemplate the water itself as an activity. Thus v r 3 represents a museum/gallery experience where the audience pays attention to water.

There's a huge amount to say about this, but the story is really told in the blog posts I've written about the game.
You can download versions of the museum for Mac OS X and Windows. Or, you can watch Rock Paper Shotgun's Philippa Warr take a virtual stroll. The textually inclined might also be interested in Hyerpallergic's recent writeup:
Some ripple violently, with edges as sharp as diamonds; others are the bright blue of a heavily chlorinated pool. All are specimens of the ongoing challenge to render water realistically in video games.
(Pippin Barr previously and previously-er.)
posted by cjelli (6 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Brilliant idea this. Almost like something you would encounter in a Myst game.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:20 AM on April 18, 2017

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posted by oulipian at 3:57 PM on April 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Odd that it's called "v r" but it's not actually in VR.

This would be great in a 6DoF headset like a Vive or a Rift...
posted by otherthings_ at 9:28 AM on April 19, 2017

Odd that it's called "v r" but it's not actually in VR.

I thought about mentioning that in the main post, but ended up cutting it; this is actually the third in a series of projects exploring the conceptual space between the real and the unreal; the name is actually a play on words, with a nod to the current VR trend -- writing about v r 1 (which preceded this game), Barr writes:
v r 1 is a project based on the artist Gregor Schneider's iconic work "Totes Haus u r", and specifically the room inside it known as "u r 1". Schneider's art has involved the almost endless renovation, re-renovation and re-invention of the interior of a house in Mönchengladbach-Rheydt in Germany. The house contains rooms that rotates, rooms that are completely insulated, walls behind walls, and much more. Schneider has also recreated/doubled the entire house for the Venice Biennale, and has created doubles of various rooms/houses at other times. v r 1 is an exploration of related ideas in virtual space with virtual architecture. In particular, I was most interested in seeing how creating doubled spaces differs in a virtual setting – notably the idea that doubling is trivial in this context, amounting to nothing more complex or laborious than "cut and paste". With that in mind I wanted to experiment in different ways with the configuration and setting of the room that would acknowledge and work with its virtual nature, trying to evoke a related uncanny and creepy effect in the very different medium.
And: v r 2
v r 1 was very much about working out how to incorporate some of what Gregor Schneider does into a digital/virtual setting. v r 2 continues engaging with Schneider to some extent, and specifically his exploration of the effect of unseen elements of architecture (e.g. walls that are behind other walls) or elements embedded in architecture (e.g. stones embedded invisibly inside walls). In fact that’s kind of the core philosophical concern of v r 2 – how do we feel about the “existence” of things we can’t see or engage with in a virtual space?
More on v r 1 and v r 2 at Barr's blog.

(I agree a VR-enabled version of this would be great.)
posted by cjelli at 9:46 AM on April 19, 2017

Some of the cheats that the waters use might break in VR. One that tried out was rendering a reflection on the water according to the position of the camera. In VR you have two camera positions simultaneously, one for each eye, so when we tried the water in VR, the reflection only worked properly in one eye.
posted by RobotHero at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was kind of hoping it would be a museum of various water effects used in video games throughout history, but I guess that's not technically (or legally) feasible. It was amusing seeing the utter lack of correlation between the quality of each water shader and the asking price, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:20 PM on April 21, 2017

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