Oculus Drift


Oculus Drift 2012-2016 digital video, media player, plastic, water, swimming goggles


The work Oculus Drift plays with the dynamics of perception and immersion. Featuring stereoscopic underwater imagery, recorded by cameras set afloat amidst the ebb and flow of waves. This imagery is experienced via a home-made stereoscopic viewer that employs a miniature plastic aquarium as a water lens, the earliest and most basic form of magnification.

The implications of this material mediation are reflected in Kyle Weise’s discussion of the work: “images of underwater also invariably require mediation through glass, lenses and so on. The underwater porthole has been evoked throughout cinema history as a ‘magic window’ into new worlds, acting as a metaphorical double for the film screen itself. Oculus Drift repurposes this trope, using it to playfully connect the latest VR headsets to their nineteenth century foundation in the construction of the modern observer, imbricated in, and attentive to, successive waves of consumer entertainment.”

Perceptual experience is central to the work, while also being complicated by distortions of depth perception, the interface of water lens and underwater imagery, pixels and individual bubbles and grains of sand, to produce a potentially overwhelming opticality. By foregrounding the mediating apparatus in the spectator’s experience, the works seek to create spectacles that playfully subvert their own spectacular nature, and emphasis the processes of mediation and distortion at play.

For the full essay by Kyle Weise, click here