work in progress preview of extended reality collaborations presented by NEW INC and EY Metaverse Lab
Solo Exhibition

Metafrictions Preview at Onassis ONX

DOWNLOAD POSTER & GUIDE (PDF)

February 14 & 15, 2024
Metafrictions

studio preview of extended reality works in progress
Presented by the New Museum's NEW INC and EY Metaverse Lab
Onassis ONX, New York, NY

Laura Splan’s Metafrictions: February 14 & 15
Eva Davidova’s Audience as Virus: February 15 & 16

Panel Discussion: February 15 at 5:30pm
Laura Splan & Eva Davidova in conversation with EY Metaverse Lab's Domhnaill Hernon & Danielle McPhatter

Metafrictions is a multimedia installation by interdisciplinary artist Laura Splan that combines recent animations and weavings alongside new extended reality (XR) collaborations exploring motion tracking, 3D animation, AI, sound, and VR with performative facilitation.

This mixed reality experience encourages collective co-creation and collaborative interaction while revealing residues of individual agency. An interactive VR experience, facilitated by a performer, functions as a prologue that frames a series of sensory encounters evoking oscillating sensations of memory and immediacy, presence and absence. Metafrictions explores the potential for hybrid experiences to reveal “virtual residues” persisting in the physical world while exploring possibilities for new materially liminal sensations. The artworks both unveil and create “virtual residues” that persist in the “real” world through accretion of implied meaning and function introduced “inside” technologically mediated experiences that cannot be unseen “outside” of them. The project resituates the physical and the virtual as simultaneous rather than separate, where past events resonate as “ambient frictions” in the present. Frequently working with biotechnological themes, Splan positions “residues” in both the abstract (metaphorical, ephemeral, ethereal) and the literal (physical, chemical, biological). References to epigenetic research on environmental influences on gene expression serve as a conceptual scaffold to explore the impact of past events on our present bodies and future humanity. Metafrictions is part of an expansive body of work that also includes animations, sound and weavings. Selected weavings from her Tangible Variations series are incorporated in Splan's preview at ONX as well as animations from the Baroque Bodies series (Configurations and Ambient Portals).

Metafrictions is a multimedia installation by interdisciplinary artist Laura Splan that combines recent animations and weavings alongside new extended reality (XR) collaborations exploring motion tracking, 3D animation, AI, sound, and VR with performative facilitation.

This mixed reality experience encourages collective co-creation and collaborative interaction while revealing residues of individual agency. An interactive VR experience, facilitated by a performer, functions as a prologue that frames a series of sensory encounters evoking oscillating sensations of memory and immediacy, presence and absence. Metafrictions explores the potential for hybrid experiences to reveal “virtual residues” persisting in the physical world while exploring possibilities for new materially liminal sensations. The artworks both unveil and create “virtual residues” that persist in the “real” world through accretion of implied meaning and function introduced “inside” technologically mediated experiences that cannot be unseen “outside” of them. The project resituates the physical and the virtual as simultaneous rather than separate, where past events resonate as “ambient frictions” in the present. Frequently working with biotechnological themes, Splan positions “residues” in both the abstract (metaphorical, ephemeral, ethereal) and the literal (physical, chemical, biological). References to epigenetic research on environmental influences on gene expression serve as a conceptual scaffold to explore the impact of past events on our present bodies and future humanity. Metafrictions is part of an expansive body of work that also includes animations, sound and weavings. Selected weavings from her Tangible Variations series are incorporated in Splan's preview at ONX as well as animations from the Baroque Bodies series (Configurations and Ambient Portals).

About This Event

NEW INC and EY Metaverse Lab will present two multimedia installations at Onassis ONX, developed during the collaboration’s artists-in-residence program. The initiative brings together artists and technologists to explore challenges and issues affecting humanity today. This year’s program features artists Laura Splan and Eva Davidova. Splan is developing "Metafrictions," a work that examines new epistemologies emerging alongside notions of the metaverse and the cognitive impact immersive digital worlds may have on top of embodied experiences. Davidova will present "Audience as Virus," a performance dependent on audience participation as it examines the current limitations of AI’s predictive abilities. Both artists’ works raise awareness of technology’s growing homogeneity—its effects on humanity and creative attempts to break free.

About the EY Metaverse Lab

The EY Metaverse Lab’s artist-in-residence program, a collaborative initiative with NEW INC, brings together artists and technologists to delve into explorations surrounding humanity and our interactions with society-altering technologies. The EY Metaverse Lab’s primary emphasis is on harnessing the potential of immersive and emerging technologies for positive human impact, focusing on a wide spectrum of themes including accessibility, identity and inclusion, social mobility, and social impact. With the power of colliding the worlds of art and technology, the collaborations between the EY Metaverse Lab and their artists reflect on the importance of the human condition being deeply embedded in how we think about and imagine new futures that activate emerging technology for human betterment.

About NEW INC

As the first museum-led cultural incubator, NEW INC was conceived of as a not-for-profit platform for furthering the New Museum’s ongoing commitment to new art and new ideas. Now in Year 10, NEW INC’s membership model continues to support a diverse range of creative practitioners with a values-driven program and safe space for gathering and developing new creative projects and businesses. In 2020, NEW INC launched ONX Studio, an XR accelerator for artists, in partnership with the Onassis Foundation. NEW INC was cofounded by the New Museum’s Toby Devan Lewis Director Lisa Phillips and former Deputy Director Karen Wong in 2014.

About Onassis ONX

A hybrid production and exhibition space, Onassis ONX hosts a global community of members who create interactive and immersive XR works. Located in the Onassis Gallery in Midtown Manhattan, it was founded in partnership by the Onassis Foundation and New Museum’s NEW INC.

ON VIEW: Selected Metafrictions Works in Progress

Sublimation + The Chaperone (facilitated VR experience with performer in costume with AI-generated imagery)

Lead Artist: Laura Splan
Technology Collaborators: Danielle McPhatter, Steven Dalton

Sublimation is a hybrid reality project with technical facilitation conducted by a performer know as The Chaperone. The Chaperone (performed by Laura Splan for this preview) assists visitors with the technical needs of a VR experience, while unpacking the poetics of its devices and imagery. The VR component allows visitors to create a soundscape using 3D models of proteins while inspecting landscapes reflected in their surfaces. Text prompts with research excerpts on environmental influences on gene expression were used to generate the landscapes from existing images in the AI model. The work explores “residues” in both the abstract (psychological, virtual) and the literal (digital, genetic). Sublimation functions as a prologue to a series of explorations of molecular bodies situated in liminal spaces that are at once biological and technological, autonomous and entangled.

Organelle (participatory sound sculpture installation)

Lead Artist: Laura Splan
Technology Collaborators: Danielle McPhatter, Steven Dalton

Organelle includes a series of sculptures that function as musical instruments. The instruments (celeste, marimba, harp, bass clarinet) can be activated by one participant or collectively played by individuals. Motion trackers embedded in each 3D-printed sculpture control the sound in different ways based on position and rotation. When inactive, a persistent tone can be heard in the room as an audible “residue” of previous visitors’ activations. The round forms reference the spherical structure of nucleosomes which play a role in gene expression at the epigenetic level.

Reservoir (interactive audio visual installation)

Lead Artist: Laura Splan
Technology Collaborator: Danielle McPhatter
Science Collaborator: Adam Lamson

Reservoir is an interactive installation with collectively controlled views of 3D models. Participants can manipulate a camera’s navigation of the 3D models with their movements throughout the space. For example, moving forward zooms in and moving left to right positions the camera horizontally. Each participant has an equal percentage of control of the camera. With multiple participants, individual movement has less influence than collective movement. The imagery includes models of proteins that reflect AI-generated landscapes created with epigenetics research texts. A constantly changing soundscape is composed as each participant introduces a new sound into the space upon entry. The sounds were created with sonifications of biophysical simulations by Adam Lamson.

Souvenir (rose flavored candy and beverage)

Lead Artist: Laura Splan

Souvenir references the rose scent introduced by The Chaperone during the Sublimation VR experience. Chewy rose flavored candies are offered on a plate made from palm leaves alongside a rose flavored beverage.

CLOT

...Interdisciplinarity is the foundation on which artist Laura Splan conceives her work...Through her practice, science is moved out of the laboratories while keeping its axioms and experiments present...A number of its mechanisms are paralleled with the cultural dynamics that inhabit our everyday lives, putting a magnifying glass on the interconnections that exist between diverse fields of knowledge...

Marketing AI Institute

The EY team and Laura Splan came across a joint frustration about virtual reality: When you go into a physical room, you’re a biological, physical entity. When you put on a VR headset, your experience starts, and you're fully immersed from step one. Laura believes our experiences should start the moment we step into the actual space. This idea—how could the experience be more meaningful if it started immediately when entering a VR space—led the EY team to create the concept of “a residue.” This residue is an idea that you when you go into a virtual environment and something is imprinted on you within that environment, that it lasts with you in the physical world and builds a bridge between these two environments and experiences. Ultimately, it’s the idea of putting humans at the center, not just transporting users to a fantastical, virtual place. Because the EY team has worked deeply with artists who are asking these hard questions and thinking about this technology/human intersection, the team is able to build technologies and solutions that tap into this way of thinking.

Science Friday

...biophysicist Adam Lamson is collaborating with artist Laura Splan in a project the two of them call ‘Sticky Settings’...From giant tapestries that present maps of DNA in colorful, tactile formats, to otherworldly animations set to music, their art invites a non-scientific audience to literally walk into the processes our own cells are undergoing every day...

ONX Studio
EY
Wave Farm
NY State Council on the Arts
The Getty Museum
Getty PST ART

NEW INC + EY Metaverse Lab Team:
Salome Asega, NEW INC Director
Domhnaill Hernon, EY Global Metaverse Labs Lead
EY Creative Technologists: Danielle McPhatter, Ethan Edwards, Steven Dalton, Tommy L. Sharkey

Created while in residence as:
NEW INC Artist in Residence at EY at NEW INC, the New Museum's cultural incubator
Beall Center for Art +Technology at UC Irvine for the 2024 Getty’s PST: Art x Science series

Metafrictions is also made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature through the Media Arts Assistance Fund a regrant partnership of NYSCA and Wave Farm.

This work was also made possible by the Simons Foundation. Selected artworks for Metafrictions were created in collaboration with Adam Lamson, Science Collaborator and theoretical biophysicist at Flatiron Institute, a division of the Simons Foundation.

Additional Support was provided by Unnamed Fund

Movement Advising: Mary John Frank, Uplift, Movement Explorers

Art Documentation (all images in gallery below): Photos by Aram Busuioc