Participatory WebVR Experiment, 2020
A Fictional Landscape of Togetherness
We want to be together. We wish we could teleport, so that we do not rely on planes or trains. Texting is not enough, calling is not enough, video chatting is not enough. AR is not enough, VR is not enough, XR is not enough. Nothing can replace the sense of being together in the same space.
Where could this ‘together space’ possibly be at? In this fictional (surreal) reality, togetherness is a fantasy. All efforts of togethering are dragged into a black hole of individual segregation. We need to build from scratch another fiction, a fiction of togetherness.
In this next fiction, we do not need to be the same. We are so different that we collide and crash into each other. Through collaging, montaging and stitching, we will set up something there.
Take whatever you have around you. Scan it, shoot it, record it. Scale it, move it, warp it. We will plot this fiction using what we have in hands. When your things and my things are side by side, then we meet each other again, in this uncertainty. I offer mine to you. You let me take yours. We are individuals, but we have bits and pieces of each other. We are no longer confined. We teleport instead.
In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the usage of the screen has increased significantly, our sense of alienation has been accelerated. Inspired by the phenomenon, we started considering how people and technology have chosen to remain in touch and united. Has communication come to depend heavily upon the Internet? Further, how do we use the technology to connect with each other? To build intimacy, and to establish a closer interactive relationship. How do we maintain collectivity in an individualized digital world?
We are convinced that now is an excellent time to think of the confluence of art production, the tools of technology, and ideas regarding futurity. We are interested in the expansion of physical geography into a surface inclusive of the digital sphere that can allow us to consider the web/the cloud/digitization as a connecting catalyst. Our goal is to improve a diverse, alternative and intimate mode of communication for future creative communities through the development of immersive web-based interactive experiences. Can streaming become a bodily and sensory act? Based on our experiences in research based practice, performance, exhibition, 3d modeling, coding and programing we aim to develop a project spanning online streaming, crowd participation, soundscapes, photogrammetry and collaborative performative experience.
Our goal is to stretch and add upon the understanding of what a digital platform means and can do for these times of social distancing, not only to serve as a communication device for touch but also as a way to store touch. By collecting data through the surfaces generated in collective mapping landscapes we were able to translate those attempts of touch into traces: bridging a gap between bodily touch, digital collective interaction, information exchange and physical movement. We want to build a platform to touch each other and to store that touch, to remember it. We want to transform that touch into movement.
Towards that end, we as a collective have created a fictional landscape from modelling our experiences into something that can be ‘walked through’ and potentially ‘experienced’ by others. Key in this project is the record of these traces.
Credits | Team: MIT ACT 2021
Chucho (Jesús) Ocampo Aguilar, Faruk Sabnovic, Po-Hao Chi , Emma (Yimeng) Zhu, Aarti Sunder
This project was supported by Transmedia Media Storytelling Initiative at MIT.