Memory Towers was designed to create a sense of nostalgia and time to reflect as users climbed through their past. Some of the older photos most people have on Facebook are rarely uncovered, leaving them to fade away into the past. In this virtual reality information visualization art piece, these relics are brought back to life as participants climb up a tower of their Facebook past. During this art project’s exhibition, participants signed into their Facebook, then put on an HTC Vive VR headset to experience their photos in a completely new way. Each brick of the tower was programmatically generated out of the user’s tagged Facebook photos. Pictures with more comments were designed to stick out of the tower more than photos with no comments. As the participants climbed up their own personal Facebook photo tower, a voice would speak the comments attached to the photo currently in their hands.
The user_photos permission from Facebook’s Graph API was used to access the participant’s photos, and ultimately generate the digital sculpture tower in Unity. To get the Graph API working on a desktop application for VR, I relied heavily on Hybriona’s Facebook SDK port. Without it, this project would not have been possible. The SteamVR plugin combined with VRTK was then used to implement the tower climbing functionality. Overall, I found both packages to be incredibly easy to work with, making VR development easier than I expected. To give users a sense of scale in VR, a desert skybox and terrain map was downloaded from the asset store and applied to the project. While this asset was not originally VR-friendly, lowering the resolution of the terrain map (in Adobe Photoshop) resolved all latency issues while in the virtual world. Finally, soundtrack was also created in Logic Pro X, that sampled various Facebook messenger and iPhone camera sound effects. This soundtrack was played during the participant’s experience in VR.
To promote the event on campus, I also created a poster in Adobe Illustrator.