The first time artist Ruben van Leer worked with a LIDAR scanner, he captured CERN's large hadron collider in 3D for hisspace-opera film, Symmetry , which tells the story of the character Lucas merging with the collider. For his latest project, Sacred Environment, a collaboration with composer Kate Moore for The Holland Festival in Amsterdam, van Leer used a LIDAR scanner to 3D scan sacred sites in Moore's native Australia. The performance featured an orchestra playing Moore's music, while a VR performer, Esther Mugambi, explored 3D generative point-clouds of the sacred sites, which were projected on a screen for the audience to follow live. Like the Tribeca Film Festival's VR Arcade installations and the Met Cloisters' fantastic voyage into tiny Gothic sculptures,Sacred Environment attempts to transport audiences into different times and spaces.
To make the VR portion of Sacred Environment, Moore invited van Leer to Australia, where they took a three-hour drive north from Sydney, along the Great North Road into the Yengo mountain area, a place of great spiritual significance to indigenous Australians. There, van Leer connected with two elders from the local community, Uncle John and Uncle Phil, who took him under their wings, showing him a diverse range of aboriginal sites with sacred meaning. Among them, the Baiame cave, a range of eucalyptus trees, stone plates with carvings and stories, and borders between men's and women's land.
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