Studies have revealed compelling relationships between experiences of the natural environment and positive health outcomes in adult communities, primarily around lowering stress responses and increasing feelings of wellbeing. These psychosocial health benefits are frequently described via key theoretical frameworks, including the biophilia hypothesis, attention-restoration theory and stress-reduction theory. A number of studies have evaluated technological nature and human wellbeing; however, the wellbeing benefits of immersive, multisensory virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) nature experiences are still emerging in the research. Additionally, broadening evidence around composed or conceptualised nature and human wellbeing urges new possibilities for artistic, abstract and creative experiences. Inner Forest is a virtual nature artwork in development, adapted from its original immersive VR proposal to augmented reality (AR) as a result of COVID-19 impacts and restrictions. This AR format is self-directed, enabling accessibility and inclusion for diverse user groups, ages and abilities and is designed to be experienced on demand. Each experience of the artwork is unique to audience interactions/contributions whilst engaged with the AR environment. Nature-evocative AR vision, audio and haptic elements will be demonstrated at the ACMC 2020. Conference attendees are invited to view the Inner Forest artwork online via the supplied link, and contributors Susannah Langley and Jessica Laraine Williams (The University of Melbourne) will be demonstrating the work and discussing its background rationale in their paper. The design of the artwork is aligned with Browning et al.’s 2014 Biophilic Design guidelines, which support contemporary approaches to nature that include living organisms, non-living components, and designed elements. Inner Forest ultimately aims to offer audiences with a creative, playful experience of virtual nature art usable in both actual nature and in scenarios where actual nature is inaccessible. Scaling of the project will include delivery via a mobile phone app, haptic touch booklet and aromatherapy diffuser to elicit a multi-sensory, portable experience of a virtual nature ecosystem. Future scaling for the artwork involves staging immersive virtual nature experiences using 360 degree/CAVE equipment at the Virtual Reality Learning Studio (VRLS), The University of Melbourne.
For further information on Inner Forest artwork on Vimeo, please use https://vimeo.com/431305714 and Inner Forest AR mobile app prototype, on Vimeo, https://vimeo.com/424461493 .
Susannah Langley is a visual artist whose practice is rooted in experimental drawing, installation and sound, often using unconventional media such as conductive material, found objects, field recording and virtual reality to explore ideas of history, memory, movement, feeling, and space. Since 2013, she has collaborated on works that people can move through, and touch, to summon stories and soundscapes, and primarily taken the form of virtual reality experiences and large scale installations. These works have been featured in exhibitions, festivals, prizes and residencies both nationally and internationally. Susannah was the winner of the 2017 Paramor Art + Innovation Prize, Casula Powerhouse. In addition to her arts practice, she also delivers creative tech-based workshops to a variety of age groups. Susannah is a current Master Researcher at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne researching drawing and sound in a virtual environment. In addition, she is a current artist in residence with the Centre of Projection Art, Melbourne and recent resident at Testing Grounds Studios, Southbank Melbourne. Website: https://www.susannahlangley.com/ Email:[email protected]
Jessica Laraine Williams is a transdisciplinary researcher, visual artist, writer and part time PhD candidate at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, The University of Melbourne. In 2020, she is undertaking an academic associate/sessional tutor role with the Faculty, teaching within Critical and Theoretical Studies. Jess has been working for a decade in her physiotherapist profession, including hospital, rehabilitation and management roles. She now specialises in aged care physiotherapy part time. Jess is undertaking her doctoral research into methodologies of posthumanism in art. This includes collaborations with researchers across and beyond her home faculty and institution. Her broader creative work relates to interests in performative identity, relational cartography (systems) and institutional critique. Jess holds first class Honours degrees in both the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Monash University) and the Bachelor of Fine Art (The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, The University of Melbourne). She has written for art publications both academic and popular, such as the Conversation and Art+Australia.Website: www.jlogos.net Email: [email protected]
Ann Borda is Associate Professor in the Centre for the Digital Transformation of Health at The University of Melbourne and Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health. Ann has a PhD in information science from University College London which has served as a springboard for her commitment towards transdisciplinary scholarship. She has held senior positions in computing and data-intensive research initiatives in the UK and Australia. Ann has extensive experience in mentorship, open knowledge, and social innovations in both smart health and cultural heritage. Such interests were fostered during her time at the Science Museum London in building digital collections to support communication in public science and medical discovery, and in managing an open source software portfolio across several UK higher education institutions. Ann presently sits on the Research and Policy Committee of the Climate and Health Alliance. Among many knowledge exchange events, she has co-organised public forums on automation, well-being and society with the Alan Turing Institute. Recently Ann received an EPIC grant under the EU Horizon 2020 programme (ICT) to investigate advancing approaches to health and biomedical citizen science methods, platforms and capabilities. Website: http://www.findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/display/person197899