Christopher Valore (AKA The Architect) talks “Conductor,” His Virtual-Reality, Psychedelic-Visual Sandbox Platform

Russell HausfeldDecember 7, 2020

Christopher Valore discusses his love of virtual reality; the early days of his company, Club Transcendia; and development of his first official release, “Conductor.”

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Christopher Valore—or The Architect, as he is known in virtual reality (VR) circles—is a VR artist and the founder of Club Transcendia LLC. Through this company, Valore is aiming to produce projects which help people connect and explore their creativity in an ever-digitizing world. On October 29, Club Transcendia released its first project, “Conductor”: a virtual-reality psychedelic sandbox which lets users design their own psychedelic visualizers that react to audio-visual inputs uploaded by the user. 

Valore sat down with Psymposia to show off the capabilities of this project, which you can see in the video below. He also spoke with Psymposia about his love of VR, the early days of Club Transcendia, and what the “Conductor” project has meant for him.

Psymposia: How’d you start working with VR?

Christopher Valore: I’ve always been obsessed with virtual reality as a concept. Ever since I was young I have always been into things that force your mind to think in new and novel ways. I’ve always had a particular interest in anything that was consciousness-expanding.

I’d been a part of VRChat [a free-to-play virtual-reality social platform] for a couple of years, before it had crossed over into the mainstream success it is now. I hadn’t been able to afford VR when I had first joined, so I was creating worlds and experiencing them on desktop for quite a while. In 2016, when I had first joined, VRChat was this really small, close-knit community and I knew basically everyone. Seeing 30 people online at once was a big deal back then.

We used to all meet up on Sundays to explore new worlds made by the mostly developer-centric community. At the time, my friends were saying that it was a shame I couldn’t experience my own work in virtual reality.

I picked up a Rift CV1 as soon as I had saved up enough money during a Summer of Rift sale, fell in love pretty much instantly, and I have been going full force ever since.

Once VRChat started to gain in popularity, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to start growing a community organically through my work, which was based out of my hub world: Club Transcendia.

I originally just wanted to make a trippy-but-chill club hangout and it grew out from there. I started making new worlds each week to share with the Club Transcendia community in the early days of VRChat’s popularity spike.

We have a piano night at the club most Fridays at 8PM PST called Club Transcendia Live where my friend, “Hackbackwards,” comes in and he plays improvisationally and he is excellent. In VR it looks like he is playing the piano, too, because of how he dangles the controllers from his wrists. He’s pretty awesome and has continued playing just about every Friday for the past two years.

“Hackbackwards” playing piano at a Club Transcendia Live event.

Club Transcendia ended up growing into its own entity and I started wanting to do bigger and better projects that eventually led me to start development on “Conductor” around November 2018. 

To have been able to organically meet and get to know people who respect what I do so much and support my art so wholeheartedly has been a huge blessing in my life.  

You founded a company for launching “Conductor” and other projects?

Indeed! *Pulls up big boi CEO pants.

Club Transcendia LLC has now been a thing for almost two years. I named it after the community in homage to all of the beautiful souls that have helped steer me in the direction I’m heading in now. Our mission is to create sustainable product platforms with the purpose of bringing maximal love, wellness, and creativity into the world.

Right now, it’s myself as the CEO, creative lead, and systems designer for “Conductor;” the engineers I hire on to help with the programming; a close-knit group of friends who help me with Quality Assurance; and my Chief Operating Officer, Mustafaa Ansare, who has been instrumental in researching and helping strategize our future plans for “Conductor.” 

I’d like to especially shout out Bryan of Burrcastle XR, Andrew of “VR With Andrew,” my friend Sirius, Zachary of World Tree, and my friend, Tyler, for being tremendous human beings without whom “Conductor” would not be where it is today.

What was your goal when you started working on “Conductor?”

The goal was to create a platform that encouraged people to explore their creativity, create their ideal meditative environments and be able to experience all of their favorite existing audio-visual content in a new light. 

I adapted the concept originally from a more primitive prototype I had created with the VRChat Software Development Kit called “Create a Trip,” and I realized that the concept had legs and it could walk on outside of VRChat. 

I wanted to empower people to create their own ideal experiences.

Why have you decided to release “Conductor” for free as a Patreon-supported platform?

I did not want a price gate to be the thing that was preventing people from being able to enjoy “Conductor.”

My desire to live up to Club Transcendia’s mission statement has played a huge role in that. 

If I can offer something that can help bring others together, help them feel better, and encourage them to explore their creativity in new and novel ways, that is something I am 100-percent about. 

In part, I was also additionally spurred on by the time that we are all currently living through. The world has changed dramatically in some ways, and a lot of people are finding it difficult to cope with the difficulties of post-COVID reality. It is a sincere hope of mine that “Conductor” can become a source of joy, creative fulfillment, and respite for all who use it.

“Conductor’s” Theater Mode allows users to upload videos, which the software then uses as material for generating psychedelic visuals.

Where do these visuals come from? Have you had psychedelic experiences where you have seen visuals like these?

I focus on the concepts of symmetry and unity — where many things are moving individually, yet are also operating as parts of a grander whole motion.

I actually have yet to have done a psychedelic. Even though I want to. Proper set, setting, and access have yet to reveal themselves to me.

That said, however, the psychedelic ethos is something I identify with strongly. And, the aesthetic wells up from within me in a truly visceral manner. According to a number of the experienced psychonauts within the Club Transcendia community I seem to be tapping into the right thing. 

Many of those who experience my work tell me, “Dude, you fucking nailed it!” Or, “This reminds me of one type of experience or another.” 

One of the major inspirations for me going down this path as a career has been the people in my community who have confided in me that my work provides them comfort and respite from their everyday worries and life.

The first couple of months of Club Transcendia’s growth as a community were really overwhelming because I was encountering so much love and support. I have always been someone who never had a lot of confidence. Never really had a lot of self-worth. So, to have found a niche that not only helps to fulfill me but is helping others is really kind of a dream come true. 

One example of this is that one of my community members’ therapists knows how much they enjoy my worlds, so he recommends that they go into my worlds to relax. I can’t speak for others, but for myself, that is pretty much the best compliment as an artist that I could ever get. I continue to struggle with my own demons, as someone who has dealt with severe anxiety and depression for most of my life, but I feel really fortunate to have been able to tap into something that is actually helping people.

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Russell Hausfeld

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Russell Hausfeld is Senior Writer for Psymposia and an investigative journalist and illustrator living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Cincinnati.