Artist Meichun Cai’s Visions of Human-Space Dynamics in Virtual Reality

The increasing need towards a high-quality life has made technology an intersected subject with many other disciplines, including art. In comparison to conventional forms of art and design, the inclusion of new technologies created an unusual organic chapter which provides effective solutions to interdisciplinary subjects. Breaking this boundary is what Meichun Cai seeks to accomplish.

As a multimedia artist, Cai focuses on the pluralistic relationship between man, nature and machines. Upon discovering virtual reality, it occurred to Cai that physical space can be augmented through technological means. The emergence of such technology constantly alters human spatial needs.

“The definition of creation is not limited to any kind of private emotional expression. Instead,  it should be something that can connect individuals to the outside world on different levels, allowing us to both dig deeper inward and think beyond ourselves to the grand narrative,” Cai said.

Screenshot 2023 06 15 at 11.04.28 AMBuilding Toy I, VR game scenes, in collaboration with Yujia Liu

Cai designed a modular building that is capable of consistent transformation, hoping to fulfill the functional needs of humans by making changes to spatial structure. Traditional architectural space usually has fixed forms with practical details, which led to the creation of Building Toy—a design that responds to human behaviors.

In order to shape space into a “living organism” with senses akin to humans, Cai established a mutual influence between humans and space, allowing people within the space subject to the influence of the dynamics and taking specific actions. By doing so, space is no longer passive but actively shapes itself to meet human needs.

According to Cai, every element is interactive and responsive in this VR environment. The spatial structure rearranges and reassembles based on the relative displacement or specific actions of the user. The relationship between humans and space is sustainable, continuously alternating between active and passive states.

Screenshot 2023 06 15 at 11.04.36 AM

(Building Toy, demo exhibition, New York)

“This is a mechanism that I call Spatial Maze in Motion,” Cai explained. “Building Toy is my attempt to achieve this type of interaction through virtual reality technology. My primary focus was on choreographing the overall logic of spatial change and creating an engaging interaction experience.”

Cai’s work often discusses how to move beyond traditional anthropocentric viewpoints and how to incorporate emerging technologies to reimage our future. She believes that these topics are crucial to societal progression. These issues not only resonate with her personal area of interest but also serve as catalysts for stimulating collective dialogues.

While many consider art to be most valuable as a solitary expression, Cai determines that this is a rather one-sided perception. In Cai’s work, she aspires to present a new model of philosophy and practice. By letting go of preconceived notions of self, others, and unknown systems at the start of the creative process, Cai’s works are able to retain their originality.

Author: Lan Wei

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.