AltR is the combination of the physical and digital, the virtual and the real. Unlike Virtual Reality, AltR is fully anchored in the physical body. It not only mediates perception through vision and sound, but also through the tactile, the proprioceptive and the vestibular. This results in an embodiment that has a substantial effect: the 'immersant' experiences the world from within his own body.
Eric Joris and Philippe Bekaert of CREW built their first configurations in 2003, linking 360° cameras to a tracked Head Mounted Display. This first type of video-based and embodied VR grew into what is now AltR: with out of body experiences, 'head swap' live sessions and prerecorded so called c.a.p.e.-walks.
CREW is a partner in the Dreamspace consortium where it explores the medium in a collaborative environment and applies its principles to projection-based concepts.
Eric Joris’ background comprises filmmaking, visual arts, economics, industrial design. He studied at the Royal Academy of Arts (Antwerp), at RITS Media Institute (Brussels), at Sorbonne (Paris), Cambridge University (UK), Collegium Palatinum (Heidelberg BRD) and at the European Executive training programme, Japan. First he worked for the private sector as product developer/designer. Later he started making strips (bandes dessinées) i.e. Chelsy (1990,’91) and Les Cuisiniers Dangereux (1996). But with the arrival of the digital drawing tablet, internet and computer games Joris went into new media, experimenting with these on a theatre scene (Kammerspiel, Kaufhaus Inferno 1996-‘98). From 2000 on he focused on theatrical environment, using multimedia ‘as a prosthesis’ - a paraphlegic actor was connected to robots and multimedia (Icarus, Philoctetes). For this he initiated the launch of CREW, a collective that serves as an artistic vehicle.
Within CREW artist Eric Joris develops his live-art projects in close collaboration with a collective of artists and scientists. Electronic and
digital media form the basis of a unique artistic way of thinking and the engine for aesthetic experiences and reflection. This results in hybrid performances that question and redefine commonly accepted performative parameters. CREW's activities are situated in between art and science and are focused on creation and research. Both activities are strongly connected and mutually influential. CREW’s creations range from one-to-one performances, theatre staged performances and visual art installations to sicentific research set-ups and interventions in public spaces. CREW pioneered perfomative immersion and a new type of VR. In 2002 they replaced CG with video, combining HMD’s and ODV leading up to the first immersive performance of that kind, ‘Crash’ (2004). The underlying motive is putting the moving spectator at the heart of the performance, extending the boundaries of performing arts and film.
CREW, as a structurally subsidized performance company, has set up a parallel structure called CREW_lab that concentrates on both technological and academic research. As an autonomous cell conducting research onimmersive media, it deals with both software and hardware development aswith media and communication aspects of immersive technology applications.
CREW_lab's research activities are not only valuable in their own right but also support and feed the artistic production via an intensive reciprocity. CREW_lab collaborates with EDM (Expertise Centre for Digital Media) of the University of Hasselt (B) since 2003. CREW_lab was part in EU FP7 Scientific Programmes and is a member of 2020 2D Media and Dreamspace, European
research consortia, supported by the European Commission. CREW creates in hybrid forms and presents in various settings (performance arts, visual arts, large public events, scientific conferences,…) all across Europe, China, Canada and the US.