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Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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HTC Vive technology helps render these sculptures invisible

sculptures
HTC Vive technology helps render these sculptures invisible

Lighthouse is likely the most underrated aspect of the HTC Vive. Without it, walking around an environment in a room-scaled space would not be as possible (not without clunky cameras at least); nor would one’s experience feel as seamless, since the tracking might be broken. Lighthouse does a peculiar thing that cameras of other room-scaling don’t. By surrounding the room with non-visible light, the Lighthouse functions as a positional tracking device. For the HTC Vive, it’s spotting the headset, and knowing where it lies in a 3D virtual space. But one artist is using the technology in a different way, without any sort of pesky headset at all.

The project “Invisible Sculpture” employs a Lighthouse in the same way one would for a VR set-up: except there’s no headset to speak of. Created by artist and creative technologist Teruaki Tsubokura, who recently introduced the joke idea for a Hololens meet-up app entitled My Hachiko, Lighthouse instead is used to reveal invisible sculptures on seemingly empty podiums in a dark room—their silhouettes revealed by the mere flash of a flashlight. Instead of being revealed through a head-mounted display like the Vive headset, their 3D shapes are revealed in the space itself through shining a light.

This also remedies one of the persistent problems of art installations in VR: isolation. Instead of only one person being able to see 3D shapes in a space, which is likely the case in a VR-specific display, Lighthouse’s technology reveals all of it for viewers to appreciate. Even if it is perceived as invisible at first glance.

You can read more about Tsubokura’s “Invisible Sculpture” installation from FabCafe’s November 26th art show “Gohan to Art Vol. 2.” You can view more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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