Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays

Department of New Realities on using VR and AR to give pixels personality

The final speaker at January’s Nicer Tuesdays was the Department of New Realities, a collective based within Wieden+Kennedy’s offices in Amsterdam. Joining us from DPTNR was Anita and Geoffrey, who “come from a crazy suburban hell in America and Australia," they explained to the audience. "Places where we had to create our own worlds and our own cultures.”

Calling themselves a future-forward creative unit, they are “hell-bent on finding new and innovative ways to bring together our clients and their consumers," spending most of their time “thinking about how you can break the pipeline of traditional development and make art out of the usual commercial engines.”Demonstrating this, the duo showed the Nicer Tuesdays crowd their experimentation within The Unreal Engine and how through “low brow video game hacking” they have used it as an art medium in itself.

Talking about the aesthetic aspects of their projects, Geoffrey described their style as “hyperreal, psychedelic, punk and anti-design,” noting that their aim is to mix them together to create an effect on the pixels that give them feeling and a “possessed ghost DNA”. DPTNR also explained how “speculative fiction thinking” forms the basis of their pitches, which they use to “jam on potential futures and, through experimentation, come up with ways to bring clients into the fantasy worlds we are creating.”

The duo continued to take the crowd through a couple more of the projects in their portfolio. The first was a campaign for Corona, where they created a secret paradise in the heart of one of the most hectic, overpopulated cities in the world: Mexico City. The second was an app called Lava that, similar to Shazam, could “detect what music was playing and trigger different augmented reality sculptures.”

DPTNR explained that when creating digital content, “there’s something nice about being sensitive to how we actually want to use the AR,” and that, above all, they want to use technology to "enhance reality through all the extremes of human potential and emotion.”

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