“Microcosm” is an artwork which is a virtual environment exploring scale, perspective and environments within engineering. The inner workings of engineering research are often hidden from the human eye, and this work invites spectators to explore the different scaes of terrains that are a fundamental aspect of engineering. The immersive VR experience allows audiences to walk and engage directly in different scales, and to think about the implications of engineering principles across different dimensions. Incorporated are terrains from various projects from Innovation and Design Programme (iDP) and the Satellite Technology and Research (STAR) Centre. These projects include Team Bumblebee, Formula SAE (FSAE), Robomaster, Mars Rover, and STAR research centre.

This public art commission is derived from the CDE Artist-in-Residence Programme, which seeks to bring together artists and the CDE community to collaboratively conceptualise and develop artwork for the CDE Campus. By making a space for new media art on campus, it seeks to inspire the CDE community of new perspectives and ways of thinking about the problems and solutions of our society through art. A version of the work will be published on VRchat for the community, providing an online community space which can be used for collaboration and conversations.

What if we could traverse different scales as a fantastical planet, an alien world, examining the workings behind the engineering research that are rarely seen?

The work was produced after visiting different departments in NUS CDE. Through discussion with the students and staff of CDE, I found that student left their marks on the project through the tiniest details and design of individual parts. Different terrains have different requirements, and therefore different tests to run the prototypes through. Some projects have human operators, some are autonomous, but its still programmed by a human team. And the projects got the students thinking about the question of Knowledge Transfer from “generations” of NUS students

The project was modeled from scratch in Blender and put together in Unity. The project exists both as a standalone app for PC and Quest 2, as well as a VRChat world for both PC and Quest 2. The work is screened as a HD video but also exists in its interactive VR and multiplayer VR version. The multiplayer version on VRChat offers a space for meetings, collaboration, and teaching in VR that can be simultaneously accessed by users on both PC (mouse and keyboard), PC VR (eg HTC Vive) and Meta Quest 2 (Android) headsets.