🏅 GALLERY SPOTLIGHT
Updated: Mar 15
#VRArtLive Gallery November 2021
Title: Bioluminescent Cave
Artist & World creator: Lucy Boyd-Wilson Platform: VRChat
Editor: grrlrighter Music: Miia Waltari
Find this world in VRChat here. VR Art Live! will be touring this world live streaming the event on Twitch. Join this tour in VR Chat and sign up here. Also check our Twitch channel to see recent VR Chat tours.
About the Bioluminescent Cave
(Commentary by Lucy Boyd-Wilson)
“Bioluminescent Cave” is an exploration of sparkling bioluminescence!
My art is always inspired by nature which I feel is more beautiful than anything. In particular, I am driven to express the subtle motions and rhythms of nature: rippling, floating, quivering, swarming, growing, decaying... and sparkling!
All life is in motion and that is what I love to explore.
“Bioluminescent Cave” began with the audio. My friend, Miia Waltari, creates meditation experiences using chimes and other instruments. I recorded these sweet tinkling chimes with her and then created a world inspired by the sound.
I discovered video of the amazing Waitomo Glowworm Caves of New Zealand. The glittering blue section of this world was inspired from these glowworm caves. The rest evolved from there: the glowing mossy green tumbled about the base of the pinnacles, the hue-shifting vine flowers in orange and pink, and an energy whorl to be discovered at the very top outside the cave. The cave is dark and restful on the eyes, yet strewn with vibrant lifeforms.
The cave is viewable from different levels. There is the ground level where you can move between the vertical stalactites, amongst the flowers and green moss. You can also jump and traverse the horizontal rocky platforms and view the colorful structures from higher vantage points. And there are locations where you can get outside and climb to the top for some fresh air!
I chose VRChat because it is enjoyed by our VR Art Live community, and also because I like the avatar and social infrastructure. The platform was easy to get up to speed on with good documentation. Their discord was VERY responsive. My few technical questions were answered instantly!
I have also created a couple of other VR worlds/experiences directly on the Oculus platform: “Sensitive Being” and “World in Flow”. They are not available on the public Oculus marketplace, but I have shown them at art shows and other events.
“Bioluminescent Cave” took a couple of days for the main creation and another few days for optimization and tuning. Most of it was modeled in Tilt Brush, except for a few details created in Gravity Sketch.
I used Blender for UV mapping and geometry decimation. Then Unity for bringing it all together. Shaders, materials, lighting, audio and VR Chat mechanics were all done in Unity. Light mapping and baking of Tilt Brush models was a challenge in this project. I had to discover exactly the right export/import voodoo for it to finally work.
I also had to fine-tune some navigation issues. Since the cave has a sloped ceiling, jumping was problematic in a couple of spots.
One challenge for me in using VRChat is that the platform doesn’t allow custom Unity C# scripting. I am so used to coding / scripting whatever I need that it feels very restrictive to be on a platform where it’s not possible.
But VRChat does allow custom shaders! So I was able to encode some effects into shaders in a way that I hadn’t done before. I was happy to stretch in this way – I’m always looking to improve my shader skills.
Other than minor enhancements this world feels complete. I don’t plan to extend it in a major way or port it to a different platform.
I am looking forward to creating new worlds in VRChat and trying other VR platforms such as AltSpace and Neos.
I am looking for a social VR platform that will support a full Unity project including scripting. I want to explore aspects of immersion including subtle interactivity and will need to code these interactions.
There is something especially rewarding when people can visit a world that you create. They can be IN your world, INSIDE your art.
Like everything we do as artists, especially as VR artists, there are technical and aesthetic hurdles when creating a world on a social platform, but so worth it! I very much encourage VR artists to try creating an immersive space such as a gallery or a world.
Designing art to be experienced from the inside, to encompass the viewer, is a whole other dimension of artistic expression, and one that I love!
More by Lucy Boyd-Wilson:
Are you a VR artist or a VR gallery creator? If you would like to have your art or gallery featured by VR Art Live! you can apply here.