Final Rehearsal Queerskins: ark

In August we flew to Intel Studios in LA to film Queerskins: ark using their 3D volumetric  capture technology on a 30 ft stage –the largest in the world. Here are some beautiful photos by Asya Gorovits of Michael DeBartolo and Christopher Vo in final rehearsal in NYC.  We have made something that creates a kind of dialogue between your body and that of the virtual human characters. It’s intimate, wondrous–a new kind of “touch.” Coming soon!


Our installation for Queerskins: ark will feature wearable “queer skins” by costume designer Loise Braganza

kate moss slip 2Queerskins: ark VR (co-produced by Intel Studios, currently in post-production) harnesses emerging technologies, including Intel’s 3D volumetric video capture technology , 360˚ stereoscopic video, drone-assisted photogrammetry, and spatial sound, to tell the story of a Catholic mother living in rural Missouri who reads the diary her estranged gay son has left behind, and allows herself to imagine him alive and in love.  Entering the mother’s imagination, the visitor co-creates an intimate dance between the lovers through their own body position and movement. In this way, ark explores the tension between material historical embodied reality and transcendent virtuality.  It asks visitors to consider what is lost and gained when touch and interaction become computer-mediated. The magical realist aesthetic of the VR will be extended into a physical installation that will incorporate spatial sound, video, photographs, objects and unique handmade costumes/undergarments designed by Mumbai based designer Loise Braganza. By putting on one of these wearable “soft machines,” visitors confront their own relationship to sexuality, gender, and physical body size and shape. 


Revisiting #Reconstructing #Mayakovsky #Manifesto #art #love #revolution

A friend says she is going to MIT hackathon to absorb youthful techno-idealism. I wrote about techno-idealism in 2008 with our first work, and, well, things, didn’t work out so well… . Reconstructing Mayakovsky is an experimental game-novel which tells the story of a near post-apocalyptic future where the Earth is mostly uninhabitable so everyone’s bodies are kept alive, stored like sardines, in hives, while their minds roam in virtual realities, guarded by a super computer called The Oracle. It  came out in 2008 and still pretty much works thanks to the robust coding of my artistic partner Cyril Tsiboulski. This is the first thing we made together and I still think it is awesome. Fake investment video, an archive stuck in time–accumulating 404 errors, a hand drawn animation done in collaboration with Pelin Kirca, a concrete poetry generator, an audio soundscape/thoughtgame/podcast of all 90,000 words of text. And this manifesto–the graphic design for which was taken from Roentgen’s first published scientific report of x-rays. I think it is still pretty damn on point. And, funny. Hope some day now that 12 years have past, to find an actual publisher for the text of the novel. At the time, no one had any clue what it was we’d made..

Beta-Testers Needed for Ark–the newest Queerskins #VR experience


Michael DeBartolo and Chris Vo in rehearsal for dance sequence in Ark (photo by Asya Gorovits)

Attention NYC’ers -we are beta testing Ark –the newest Queerskins VR experience, co-produced by Intel and shot this summer at the largest volumetric capture stage in the world.

In Ark, a devoutly Catholic mother living in rural Missouri finds away to overcome (for a time) her grief and herself, by imagining the son she has lost to AIDS, alive and in love. Brandon Powers choreographed an exquisite dance for this and Cyril Tsiboulski has created a groundbreaking interactive experience. You do not want to miss this. No experience necessary, in fact, we are looking for newbies! 

January 20th (MLK day) 1 PM to 5 PM near Grand Street stop on L train in East Williamsburg. The whole thing will take maximum 30 minutes of your time. Please  respond to this post to reserve a time so you don’t have to wait.

Thank you!

The Digital Imaginary– my essay “Do Cyborgs Dream Of iPhone Apps? The Body And Storytelling In The Digital Imaginary” is out imaginary

Following McLuhan,“putting our physical bodies inside our extended nervous systems, by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which…all such extensions of our bodies, including cities, will be translated into information systems,” (McLuhan 57), in this essay, I will argue that, for cyborg bodies, the change is less material than epistemological:  how we process information, how we write and read the world and our identities is fundamentally changing.

Emojis, avatars, thumbs up and down, the swipe, the pinch, the spread, little hearts are ways of commodifying, standardizing and making legible,  complex aspects of human communication which computers cannot process accurately or easily make profitable. Although not all the artworks discussed in this book are overtly political, by utilizing the affordances of digital technology, all reveal the constraints of the machine-based communication systems which they creatively co-opt.  The artworks here are hybrids: human and machine, truth and fiction, content and form. It is the reader, moved by desire or memory or simply rules of the game, who, through her interaction, sets the dynamo in motion.

Thus, the digital imaginary is an intrinsically political space.  As Haraway suggests in her manifesto:  “…the relation between organism and machine has been a border war. The stakes in the border war have been the territories of production, reproduction and imagination.“  (Haraway)

What is at stake here, as David Clarke’s The End: Death in Seven Colours intimates, is nothing less than the concept of “human.”

Atomic Vacation #VR #Comic #Artist’s #book #Art # Installation Coming to #IDFA Forum #Amsterdam November 22-27th

Really pleased and surprised that Atomic Vacation — the story of a little robot girl from the post-apocalyptic future that started us making in VR and which made us fall in love with 3D volumetric filmmaking (Depthkit!) and got put on hold because no $ and Queerskins, is accepted into the IDFA Forum

in the company of some AMAZING projects. We will be coming to Amsterdam to pitch, armed with an early prototype, a new artist’s book/comic book created in collaboration with Karen Llamas, and plans for an interactive installation. This hybrid doc project is a truly strange and deeply poetic narrative database game. Not only will it make you question what it means to be human, it will hopefully bring attention to our dreadful nuclear past and increasingly worrisome future. Taking inspiration from Sarah Ahmed’s assertion that alternative ways of constructing space, might end up “redirecting our attention toward different objects, those that are ‘less proximate’ or even those that deviate or are “deviant,” we create a series of heterotopias that are both wonderful and truly disturbing. We have been told it is either “batshit crazy” or “genius”. We think it is both. Come say “hi”!