Shifting

CityTechnologyVirtual Reality

Shifting is a virtual reality experience that reveals the intricate new nature of digital cities such as the city of Lyon.

Commissioned by the city of Lyon for its annual convention, the Shifting experience reveals and examines the new stakes of the digital city.

Cities of the 21st century are now composed of two distinct spaces: physical space, which we are all accustomed to coexisting in, and digital space, new to many people, which has become a much more complex and active space as our technology continues to develop.

PERCEIVING DIGITAL CITIES

The digital life of a city contains a great deal of information and potential decisions that cannot be ignored by citizens and all those with a stake in the city.

Shifting aims to help all those who have a stake in the city understand the nature and therefore the importance of a city’s digital space. Moreover, just because digital space can’t be perceived doesn’t mean that it’s not real; the digital life of a city contains a great deal of information and potential decisions that cannot be ignored by citizens or stakeholders.

Virtual reality is an ideal tool for perceiving what was previously confined to screens. Virtual reality devices are in some ways the ships that allow us to navigate the brave new digital world.

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BUILDING A CITY OUTSIDE THE CONFINES OF PHYSICAL SPACE

Given that there are no existing models for cities without physical limitations yet, we built one by focusing on hubs and interconnections

Shifting interprets an existing city, Lyon, a major city in France, by defining all the existing features of a post-modern city: economic life, culture, tourism, and education. Given that there are no existing models for cities without physical limitations yet, we built one by focusing on hubs and interconnections.

The selected hubs were as follows: Investment, Innovation, Research, University, Culture and Tourism. From these elements, we built a new virtual city able to be visited by digital tourists. We kept some physical symbols of the city in order to reduce resistance induced by the virtual reality device and to facilitate the user’s appropriation of the city.

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STAGE DESIGN FOR THE VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE

The intention behind our stage design was to demonstrate that something was happening for the person wearing the device even if they could not see it themselves

Shifting has been exhibited on two different occasions and each time we modified our stage design in accordance with the location and also in an effort to study how stage design affects interest in virtual reality devices.

First, we built a metallic cube whose upper part was covered in LEDs. The lights were directly connected to the VR device, LEDS lit up when the device was used and slowly pulsed the rest of the time. The intention behind this stage design was to demonstrate that something was happening for the person wearing the device even if they could not see it themselves. This stage design was effective since it resulted in a 30min wait time due to the large number of participants.

For the second exhibition, we were lucky enough to have the Musée des Confluences as our location. This time we tested a different setup composed solely of a black monolith. This variation in stage design was less successful as the space was more difficult to cohabit. However, virtual reality still sparked a lot of curiosity and questions that pushed people to try the experience for themselves, no matter what.

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Credits

  • Client for the first exhibition : OnlyLyon
  • Client for the second exhibition : Entretiens Jacques Cartier
  • Production : brûle. and FLAIR
  • Direction and animation : brûle. and FLAIR
  • Lead developer : Tom Rivière
  • Technical director : Thomas Bohl

Special thanks to Ghislain Mirat, our pleasant photographer, for the shots

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