With virtual reality, Eve Weston ’01 creates interactive art

Courtesy of Eve Weston ’01

Weston was working on an exhibition of Bruce Lee’s book collection that opened this summer

Imagine a museum filled exclusively with books. Books on philosophy, economics, boxing and stretching. It would be a lot to see. Last year, Eve Weston ’01 reflected on this challenge: how to display some 2,800 books that belonged to martial artist and actor Bruce Lee for a new exhibit at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum.

“You don’t Yes, really I want to go to a museum and look at pages in cases,” said Weston, who studied Classics and Linguistics at Princeton. “How can we invite museum visitors into his library, but also into his thoughts?”

Weston, left, stands at the Bruce Lee exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle.

Courtesy of Eve Weston ’01

Her show Be Water, My Friend: The Teaching of Bruce Lee, a collaboration with the Bruce Lee Foundation, opened July 9. Inside the museum, visitors are asked to step onto one of three circular platforms, which Weston dubbed “launch pads.” Water sounds begin to play as a screen in front of the launch pad flashes a quote, one Lee once underlined in a book Has.

“He was a very active reader,” Weston said, “both active in the sense that he would underline things and write notes in the margins, but also that he would often do things like stretch or cook while he was reading.” When the visitor moves or shifts again, a new projection appears: Lee’s handwritten notes, together with photos and videos from his films. You can enter and exit the circle, which triggers a new image each time. The goal, Weston said, is for visitors to set the pace for how they absorb Lee’s collection.

The project has been in the works for years. Before the pandemic, Lee’s daughter reached out to Weston’s co-creative director Jessica Kantor to help create a new exhibition about her father. His books had never been shared with the public before. Weston and Kantor scrolled through hundreds of scanned pages to decipher Lee’s handwriting and categorize each quote and marginal note into three categories – mind, body, and spirit – which became the three launch pads.

Curating a museum exhibit was new to Weston, but interactive art wasn’t. Ever since she learned about virtual reality from a classmate at her 15th Princeton reunion, she’s been thinking about storytelling that lives off the page. In 2018, she directed a virtual reality sitcom called The BizNest.

Eve Weston ’01 stands on one of the exhibition’s launch pads.

“Imagine instead of watching the TV show The office From the couch in your living room, you can see it from the desk next to Jim,” she said. It won Best TV Project at the annual tech conference in 2020 and was later turned into a case study for a textbook on immersive media.

Today she directs, writes and consults on immersive and experiential stories for virtual reality in museums, theme parks and shops. Weston has taught virtual reality filmmaking and TV writing at Emerson College Los Angeles, Los Angeles Film School and Chapman University. And last fall she wrote a book 10 Kick-Ass Careers for Storytellers,about people doing creative jobs in fields like podcasting, video games, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

“It’s important that artists feel that this space is accessible,” Weston said. “That it’s not just for technicians who understand the jargon. It’s the artists who make it a world we want to live in.”

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