Subterranean Matters is a collaborative artistic research and VR experience made by Paulina Greta, Baris Pekcagliyan, Warja Rybakova and Nayeli Vega under the “Stretching Senses School” as a response to the exhibition “Stretching Materialities”, curated by the Object Space Agency of the Cluster of Excellence “Matters of Activity” at Humboldt University in Berlin.
The research underpinning this VR piece is revolving around the exploration of time, memory, and human impact on the land, through stones with a non-human perspective as the main point of view.
Subterranean Matters is an attempt to use technology as a means of an extended exploration of the physical world. Stones were analyzed as materials that have embedded in their surfaces traces of history, growth, and change. These surfaces were scanned, digitalized, and used in this project as textures to build virtual environments to manipulate and live on different sizes and time scales. In this way the VR experience allows users to immerse themselves in what usually would be unobtainable, invisible or perceivable only as a small material surface. The project used real data to build most of the digital elements, from color textures to 3D environments. We started to research Berlin-Brandenburg’s land, soil, and rocks. During our research, we came across the Rüdersdorf limestone mine in Berlin.
This level is meant to explore the natural aspect of the rocks, their growing dynamics, the excavation process of their surface and their different structural forms.
This level is bringing the visitor in a cave, made of limestone, letting him interact with the growing rocks, excavating his way to the final enviroment.
The entire environment of the cave level is created by either 3D scans or by procedurally created 3D models out of textures that were taken from physical environments.
This level is meant to explore the micro structure of the limestone and to give an insight in the microscopic world where time is slow and invisible to the human eye. The environment is based on microscopic image references from CaCO3,the main molecule of limestones. CaCO3 is present in the bones of all animals and creates our own skeleton. The environment is carefully sculptured in VR using scientific visual references.
The third level is meant to explore the human manipulation and use of stone matter: the creation of infrastructures, architectures, cities. The exploitation of the natural resources and the subsequent impact on the landscape, leave a trace that can be seen from far with satellites. The core concept of our project is based on textures and visual materials as matter to use for creating sensory environments. A visual research was carried on both on the rocks and the mine mechanical structures.
Tactile exploration based on different scale-maps. This part comes as an extension of the VR experience, reconnecting the virtual visual elements with correspondent physical structures.