Chicago 1893 Overview

Michael Finney
3 min readDec 8, 2022

Project Background

In 2018 I started a long form Twitter thread to share images from an antique book called “The Dream City” of official World’s Fair photographs taken by Charles Arnold. I loved looking at the images and thought other might as well.

The idea of using “the whole buffalo”, so to speak, in regards to media production is one I hold dear. In this case, that meant working through the original posts to find themes and expand the written material into proper sentences and paragraphs. I figured that it could become a good blog post, but as I began collecting the material is was clear that it could be turned into a book. There was just so much to say and to show. I wondered how else it could be presented. Turning it into a documentary film seemed like the logical next step.

Current Offerings

The project has continued to expand. The book and full length documentary film are available on a few streaming platforms, most notably Amazon. The film soundtrack album is on Bandcamp. Merchandise offerings are on Teespring. You can find the project on primary social networks. It continues growing because of interest but there are also new ways to connect it with people that love the legacy of the Columbian Exposition. Chicago 1893’s versatility as a platform is limited only by our capacity to transmute it into new forms, both physical and intangible.

Into the XR

That first phase of releases coincided with a line of thinking I had been developing for a number of years as a result of efforts for clients and my career in music. It was a chance to manufacture everything I address regarding content development in my ten step workshop.

After completing the documentary, I started thinking about how things could continue moving forward. Initially my thinking was to expand the film with proper interviews. That turned into the idea of staging live events with Chicagoland academics at universities and appropriate venues that we could film, then releasing videos of the panels as auxiliary content online. It was at that time I was heavily using the social audio app Clubhouse to network with folks in publishing as well as filmmaking. It was an excellent tool for learning as well.

As it turned out, many of the people I was interacting with there that had a background in filmmaking and were excited about the industry’s overlap with extended reality. This is when I first started to re-explore 3D asset creation, it had been years since I had dabbled with the concepts within Second Life. It’s not something that comes naturally to me and luckily I’ve had some great assistance along the way to catch up. There is so much to learn to get involved with virtual and augmented reality. I am happy to have our first building available on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram as well as a few stand alone platforms. I believe creatives should distribute as widely as possible, solving problems and connecting with a broader audience along the way.

The Future

Where is Chicago 1893 headed next? Obviously the intention is to continue releasing the feature structures that were located around the Grand Basin’s “Court of Honor” into augmented reality. But also the goal is to monetize these components via bundles and NFTs. I still have a lot to learn in this regard and it is a dynamic field.

Additionally, generative art has been a topical interest that I have been exploring for the last four years in a variety of ways. Initially, I was applying it to the original Charles Arnold photos to color them. More recently, I have been using platforms such as DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion to render completely fantastic scenes based on the Columbian Exposition. I believe there is a wealth of territory to map and look forward to incorporating these technologies.

If you are interested in knowing more about how to integrate ideas like this for your facility or working together, please get in touch via your preferred social network.

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