what you choose to see and not to see, what you keep and what you discard–these make all the difference–Shizuku, robot girl from the future (still –in-headset view Atomic Vacation)
Seven years ago, I went to North Korea for the 100th anniversary of Kim il Sung’s birth. I did it in service of Atomic Vacation –a VR game currently in production. It was truly a one of a kind trip. I wrote a series of travel essays about it for Huffington Post. Here is the first. This was solidly in Obama years and the thought of nuclear war was far away. Even then, I recognized a resonance between North Korea’s relation to national mythologies and the U.S. Now, rereading this in Trump-time, I am a little shocked by how familiar this all sounds. Inspired by David Riesman’s incredible Cold War paper “The Nylon War” I devoted half my small suitcase to Ghirardelli chocolate bars and Revlon red lipstick, which I gave away to people I met. I could have been arrested, but amazingly wasn’t. I came away with a sincere hope that someday Korea can be reunited, on its own terms, and 100 or so elegiac Fuji Instamatic photos of nowhere spaces in the DPRK–a vestibule at a subway station, an empty playground at a park. They will eventually become part of an installation that will house the VR–a souvenir shop at the end of the world –where every day is a “going out of business!” sale.