I am a Developer and Technical Consultant, Artist, Inventor.
A graduate of Central St. Martins School of Art my 25+ year career consists of a hugely diverse variety of work ranging from channel idents for MTV (1990); projected visuals for the Clash at The Fridge in Brixton; exhibiting at the Institute of Contemporary Art; to an Augmented Reality app for Marina Abramović & The Nobel Prize Committee (2018).
Currently my time is split between freelancing as a VR and AR engineer; working with Tech-Dance collective Body Intelligence on a project fusing emotion sensing technology and dance; and investigating brain-computer interfaces in an effort to improve the way we interact with the virtual world.
It wasn’t until much later that it started to make sense. All the experiments over the years, the half-caught ideas. In fact it wasn’t until I had experienced the Oculus Rift that I looked back and realised that this is what I’d been striving for all these years. So I pieced it together. Here is the story of my journey in synthetic reality..
My first attempt at creating an immersive environment manifested in 1987. I was a student at Central School of Art in the sculpture department. At the time computers were not a common feature in art schools, the world wide web had not yet been born and even hand-held video cameras were only just starting to become available.
My idea was to create an immersive experience by placing the viewer at the centre of a spherical screen onto which I would project film shot by three back-to-back cameras equipped with fish-eye lenses. The curvature of the screen should compensate for the distortion of the lens I figured.
The piece premiered at my final degree show.
It’s a new year and I am working at the Fridge nightclub in Brixton creating visuals for the banks of video screens that surround the dancefloor and film loops for projection around the venue. As the second “Summer of Love” gets underway our visuals are in demand on the rave circuit. I spend the season travelling the length and breadth of the country projecting immersive environments for all the big raves including the infamous “Ecstasy Airport” Sunrise event at White Waltham airfield that makes the front page of The Sun.
Fast forward a few years, technology has moved on and I have moved to Dundee and a place on the Electronic Imaging course at Duncan of Jordanstone College. I had become interested in the writings of Jaron Lanier and the zeitgeist around virtual worlds that existed at the time. I felt myself motivated to attempt to create a stereoscopic head-mounted display of my own, which I did using a diving mask, some cheap lenses, some mini LCD TV’s and a miniature video camera.
A few years later I am back in London and freelancing as a creative software developer having taught myself some visual programming stuff. The internet bubble is growing and Macromedia have just released the first version of Director to contain a 3D engine. Funded by BT and Universal pictures I create the 3D Coolroom - a customisable virtual apartment where users can rent and play video and audio content, purchase real-world goods and share their creations with friends.
2016 sees the commercial release of the Rift and Vive platforms and I land a gig with Masters of Pie to create a VR training simulator for Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Designed to educate nurses in the administering of a new cancer medication, the simulation features a virtual patient who must be treated with an infusion of Darzalex and then observed as he exhibits various reactions to the drug. Participants learn to correctly diagnose and treat the resulting reactions either in the virtual world or via a second screen in a group session. The app won in the Most Valuable HCP Initiative category at the Eye for Pharma awards 2018
Most recently I have been providing engineering support for Acute Art in developing Virtual and Augmented reality apps for their roster of artists that includes Marina Abramović, Christo, Jeff Koons, Anthony Gormley and many others