With the pivot to the digital, accelerating with Covid, we have found the virtual world to be lacking in so many ways. We crave touch, we crave closeness and connection. Unfortunately, the go-to solution seems to be a linear translation from “real” to “virtual”. This is destined to be experienced as a lesser version of physical, embodied experience. What is needed now is a new language. In the coming months, we will be creating a series of intimate portraits of a range of non-professional models wearing the twenty unique hand-made garments–the “fresh fruit” of an incredible 9 month collaboration with textile artist Loise Braganza, in their own domestic habitats. Our plan is to create a virtual installation with these photographs and limited edition fully rigged avatars wearing 3D scanned versions of the garments. Visitors to the exhibition will not only have the opportunity to see these garments, they can inhabit the avatars, becoming performative elements in the exhibition. In deciding whether or not to “try on” these avatars, visitors immediately confront their own identity and their relationship to gender, sexuality, body shape and taste.
VR fashion has recently become ” a thing,” Forward looking fashion houses like Gucci and Rag and Bone have already begun exploring this. What is missing, of course, is the tactility of these fabrics–the sleek velvet, the squishy pom-poms, the softness of the used satin bodysuit with the hot pink marabou feathers. Our hope is that eventually, we can create a physical installation where this important element can be experienced.
In today’s conversation in “Queerskins Home” world in VRChat between me (writer director of Queerskins decade in the making transmedia project) and actor Michael DeBartolo (Sebastian), we explore the liberating potential and dangers of the fluidity of identity that VR offers and the interplay between physical embodied existence and virtual “transcendence.” With bonus LIVE PERFORMANCEs–Michael’s emotionally charged readings from Sebastian’s diary. Can’t wait to work this into a virtual immersive theater piece! Thanks to Zach Milonas for expert videography! Check out full discussion at https://www.facebook.com/zach.milonas/videos/3213462828708571
“I awoke with a feeling of expansive contentment, as if I were awash in a warm ocean. I felt dissolved—as if that light had worked on me, burnishing the surfaces so they glowed. I felt that even if I strove to see, I would not discern where my glimmering body stopped and the atmosphere began. To be–so uncontained, to not have to worry about the edges of things—what is this but the definition of “joy?”
Portion of an entry from Sebastian’s Diary www.queerskins.com available as playable audio object on the “bed” in Sebastian’s room VRChat.
I love these talks and walks through Queerskins Home in VRChat, our transcendent, and oh so human story space where there is no shame…Today–the topic is SEX. Incredible conversation with actor Michael DeBartolo (Sebastian) about the potential VR offers to expand conventional human eroticism. We talk Queerskins: ARK, Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane, my first person diary entries of gay sex and how sex and acting are related. We end with Narnia in a box, and the conclusion that “physics is a bitch”. Not your usual talk about VR.
Tomorrow our walk and talk through “Queerskins Home” in VRChat will be at 10 AM EST (4PM CEST). Also, available as live stream on www.facebook.com/queerskins. We will be talking about SEX and sexual identity in Queerskins: ARK, and how VR might change conventional definitions of eroticism, intimacy, and self/other boundaries. Honestly, the level of discourse in these strolls through our interactive exhibition space has been amazing. Funny, erudite, full of surprises, and, oh, so human. Please put on your hottest avatar and join me (writer/director), Cyril Tsiboulski (creative and technical director), Michael DeBartolo (Sebastian), Kathleen Fox (supervising producer) and, friends!
Serious, fascinating fun. Join Michael DeBartolo, the marvelous actor who plays Sebastian in Queerskins: ARK VR premiering this week at The Venice International Film Festival Expanded VR exhibition on Viveport. Take a stroll through the unheimlich in Queerskins Home world/interactive installation (free on VRChat). Every day at 11 AM through September 12th you can meet us in VR or online at http://www.facebook.com/queerskins for impassioned, hilarious, thought provoking discussions related to the virtual and the real, identity, sex, religion and, in this episode where we talk gender identity, my drag identity, gay men in love, octopus gender, J.K. Rowling’s transphobia, Pina Bausch, and how all this relates to the brave new world of virtual reality. Excellent videography provided by the strong, silent Zach Milonas.
If you missed my talk on Expanded Approaches to Empathy in VR, you can see it here. Many thanks to Michael DeBartolo, Professor Francisco Julian Martinez Cano for fascinating discussion related to using space, movement, gesture as tools for promoting empathy, intimacy and connection. We go deep into the making of Queerskins: ARK VR as I argue for the need for live experimentation in scripting and designing impactful narrative and moving beyond perspective taking. Thanks to Zach Milonas for expert videography. Wonderful!
Wonderful conversation with actor Michael DeBartolo with excellent videography by Zach Milonas. Michael and I discuss finding the divine in the world, what God looks like, the closet, escaping the closet, Leonardo’s drapery drawings and the making of Queerskins: ARK, tango, transcendence and embodiment.
My fascinating conversation with architect Beom Jun Kim (w.a.k) about VR and architecting space and narrative with reference to Queerskins Home, the free, open 24/7 interactive installation we made in VRChat. Talking sound as a spatial element, kitsch, symbolism, Richard Serra, queer phenomenology, time and duration, Brecht, North Korea and English follies Next level, folks. If you make in VR, you want to see this.
Tomorrow September 4 at 2 PM EST (8 PM CEST), architect Beom Jun Kim (wa.k studio), who teaches architectural design, augmented reality and virtual reality at the Spitzer School of Architecture (CUNY), Barnard College, and Yale University and who advised us on the creation of Queerskins Home will be in conversation with me about architecture, VR, and narrative/game design in the “truckstop” in Queerskins Home world in VRChat. This should be really interesting. I mean when is the last time you heard Venturi/Scott Brown/Izenour’s “Learning from Las Vegas” referenced in a talk on VR? Architecture is an under-utilized aspect of narrative in VR. It will also be live-streamed on Queerskins page. You can also watch video later on QS page.
Also, tomorrow September 4 at 1 PM EST (7 PM CEST) Queerskins: ARK choreographer Brandon Powers and I (writer/director) will be in the Venice VR Expanded Garden in VRChat( accredited visitors only ) for a “meet the directors” social hour. Hope to see you there!