Trans VR is such a unique mesh of words. Buzz words like trans, transgender, LGBTQ and transexual have become mainstays in modern culture, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. Life is all about being open-minded and accepting of experiences and world views that might differ from our own. One of the best ways to explore and understand other people’s life choices is to engage in healthy discussions and try to understand a path not yet traveled. Another great way to see the world from a different perspective is to walk a day in someone else’s shoes.
Well, with the help of virtual reality, the chance to explore a different lifestyle and experience life as someone else is now a possibility. ‘Machine to be Another’ from ‘Be Another Lab’ aims to open people’s eyes to transgender life experiences and maybe help to overcome adversary or narrow judgment. Getting the chance to spend a day and see the world through a different set of eyes is a true revelation. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Machine to be Another
What an amazing title for this piece of art. ‘Machine to be Another’ helps us to experience the world for a day in the life of a transgender person. The showpiece allows participants to don an Oculus Rift S headset where they’ll experience a 360 video. While playing through the video, an on-stage assistant helps to guide the participant through the entire experience. The assistant works in tandem with the video playing and provides touch etc in sync with what’s happening during the video. The overall experience as shared by participants is remarkably realistic and the sense of being touched when timed correctly helps to add to the immersion.
A Day in the Life of a Transgendered Man Named Jonah
While wearing the headset, participants get to experience a day in the life of a transgender man named Jonah. The use of real-life, high-quality video combined with the assistant on stage providing touches to the person makes for a surreal yet captivating experience. Users have described the experience as enthralling and fully immersive. The mind tricks you into believing you are really experiencing the story that’s unfolding through the eyes of Jonah. This modern technique of storytelling is incredibly effective and is the brainchild of a creative group of artists known as the Fearless 360.
This creative collective of artists has a very profound mission statement that is quite inspiring. To learn a little more about this group you can check out their site here. If you visit their website, you’ll be greeted with their manifesto which reads as follows:
We AGITATE, EDUCATE and CREATE to: UNLEASH THE POWER OF THE HUMAN IMAGINATION TO BUILD A BETTER WORLD USING OUR OLDEST AND NEWEST TOOLS.
Fearless is a creative agency working at the intersections of public art, public benefit R+D, old and new technologies, education, and community experience and engagement design. We are media makers, college professors, artists, storytellers, equity-driven design-thinkers, philosophers, and community organizers who bring excitement for technology designed for human(e)/machine collaboration and urgency for involving everyone in the development of the tools that are transforming how we relate to ourselves, to each other, to our communities, the environment and the new digital public space in our ether.
A bold statement indeed and very admirable to say the least. These are definitely a group of content creators worth following, and I’m excited to see any and all future projects from the group.
Getting back to the project at hand though. Machine to be Another is an excellent way to explore an emotional narrative and really get to grips with the emotional perspective of a transgender man. The unique perspective you’re given makes this a long-lasting eye-opening event. The chance to see the world differently than you normally might is educational and inspiring, to say the least. Getting to see others and even see yourself in a different way is actually quite mind-blowing and with this new technology hopefully exploring the world as a transgender man is just the beginning.
The list of potential uses for this type of body & mind narrative experience is endless. Combining art and technology like this is certainly exciting and if done successfully, certain future projects may help to shift prejudices and reduce judgment in society. It’s clear at least that these are positive steps in the right direction. Race, gender, disabilities, inequality, and phobias can be explored and obstacles overcome with a little help from creative storytelling genius like the Fearless360 group. Who knows, perhaps virtual reality might become a crucial piece of technology to create a more progressive open-minded world. Something to look forward to and definitely worth getting excited about. The future is bright for expansive minds and also for virtual reality!
If you want to read more about Machine to be Another and the science behind the tech, then check this out.