Animistic Collaborators in Mixed Reality

Phil Van Allen

Stephanie Cedneo, Xing Lv, Godiva Reisenbichler, Nan Tsai, Nicci Yin

This project explores how AI based, animistic entities could work as collaborators in Mixed Reality. Building on my prior work in animistic design — where multiple, non-anthropomorphic actors have distinct personalities and expertise — this research imagines smart entities that have super-powers because of their virtuality, yet feel embodied because of their integration with the real. It’s a participatory direction for animistic design, where the collaborators actively work in, and change three dimensional worlds.

These initial six sketches explore the affordances, interactions, and potentials of artificially intelligent, autonomous virtual actors in 3D space. We developed prototypes of different autonomous “species” that exhibited different approaches — from analytical swarms, to thinking rooms, to inventive construction bots. The simulations placed each species in simplified creative scenarios (e.g. curating a sculpture, writing a script, exploring the form of a building), where the AI entities collaborated in the creative process.

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