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Paper Town VR was created in the Art+Design studio course at NC State University, College of Design, in spring 2017.


Simon Park, Connor Shipway, Hilary Smith, Julia Lineberry, Nattanun Sumpunkulpak, Monica Nguyen, Lucas Gargano
Faculty: Emil Polyak and Patrick Fitzgerald.

Artist’s Statement

The realness of art is ambiguous. As artists living in a digital age, we often hear certain groups promoting handcrafted art as the “real” art, especially when it is compared to the digital art overwhelming the modern industry. However, as artists and designers, what we must consider is not mindlessly perpetuating the tradition of craftsmanship, but deciding which method can provide the most striking and engaging visual message. The method of creation should enhance the project, and not promote any positive bias simply for containing a handcrafted process.

For our project, we saw the opportunity to combine methods and create a harmony between these dual natures of art. By using VR technology and a physical set, we believe we were able to create something even more “real.” The handcrafted quality and texture of Paper Town remain, while the scale is greatly altered and transformed through VR. The work embraces the strengths of each medium.

Additionally, Paper Town VR can provide real-time performance that enables improvised communication and freedom through play. The live feedback from the audience in real-time can provide a more immersive experience by actively altering the contents. You become part of a unique story. We hope that this immersive installation can provide a new, unique experience to all audiences, and a fresh perspective on the storytelling method.

Technical Statement

Paper Town VR is an interactive art installation that immerses the user in a miniature 360° physical environment that can be experienced remotely through VR.

The integral part of this project is a handcrafted artwork that adds a human touch to the experience. Utilizing a motorized camera as a scaled-down vantage point, the user can observe the scenery and goings-on of a tiny two-dimensional village as if it existed at a human scale. We created an even greater illusion of depth- using warmer, more saturated colors to make objects come forward and cooler, more muted colors fade them back. Inspired by the 1937 debut of the Disney Multi-Plane Camera, Paper Town VR enlists the effect of motion parallax to add spatial realism to the captured environment. This allows the viewer to use their natural perception of space to more intuitively understand the layout of the environment. Paper Town VR also opens up possibilities for a variety of hybrid and augmented realities, such as overlaying weather effects into the digital viewing space. Finally, since the video stream is live, it provides the opportunity to be used as a live set - objects or characters can be added to the set to appear to the viewer in real time.

Paper Town VR set
Paper Town VR set
Paper Town VR Unity 3D view
Paper Town VR set
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