We would love to make Sebastian’s diary, the basis for the Peabody Award winning Queerskins: a love story and Queerskins: ARK VR experiences, into an intimate audio experience. As I learned in making Queerskins: a novel, the human voice–its timbre, paralinguistic qualities, even the length of pauses change the psychological impact of words. I had to slash and burn the audio monologues because they utterly overwhelmed the text of the diary.
Here is a quick version of what a daily podcast delivered to your inbox might sound like (<5min) perfect for waiting for a coffee or walking to the grocery store or as an adult bedtime story.
In this monologue spoken by Michael DeBartolo, Sebastian recounts his seduction of Jean-Marie at a bar in Mali. Tango music taken from a 78 record from the Internet Archive. Bamako sounds from Freesound.org.
Queer in My Own Skin is a photography series and interactive virtual installation that asks what does it mean to feel at home in your own skin, or not? Over the past nine months, we have collaborated with Loise Braganza, a Mumbai based textile artist to create 20 unique garments which, act as “soft machines” through which the wearer confronts their relationship to personal identity, gender, sexuality, taste and body size and form.
Collaborating with artist/photographer Tagger Yancey IV, we will photograph models of all different races, ages, genders, sexual orientations and body types to choose and wear a garment that reflects who they are. He will capture people intimately in their own domestic space, “at home in their own skin.” For some it will be a part of themselves they never show and it will feel unnerving or scary, for others it will feel perfectly natural ,and for some empowering.
These garments emphasize tactility, an experience which is effaced in digital spaces and which has been constrained by the pandemic. Our plan is to integrate physical and digital installations, and, in this way, allow visitors to actively consider what is lost and gained as we transition into virtual existence.
Queer in My Own Skin exhibition in VRChat features a bespoke gallery/play space in which visitors can not only view the photographs, they can discover and don customized avatars wearing these garments. In this way, they, themselves, become performative works of art. Architecture and spatial sound create an experience of embodiment as visitors climb, crawl and maneuver through spaces to discover the avatars.
We will also create a more traditional installation with printed photographs and reconstructed mannequins wearing “queer skins.” Photographs will be available for purchase as limited editions. The reconfigured mannequins wearing the garments will be sold as unique, one of a kind, artworks. If conditions permit, we would consider a live fashion show in the space as well.
In addition to these, visitors to the gallery will be able to access the virtual exhibition via Oculus Quest headset. In the virtual installation, they can don the custom avatars and can photograph or take videos of themselves in this space and share on social media channels. These avatars will be sold as limited edition, fully rigged avatars compatible with multiple virtual spaces. Audiences with any VR headset or a PC can access the virtual installation remotely.
We are looking for gallery, corporate, institutional and private partners for this. Please contact through this site or through Cloudred Studio.
We are so tired of this. Queerskins: a love story and Queerskins: ARK have been rejected from SteamVR store. Everyone talks about diversity and inclusion but we have to deal with this all the time. (not even a mention on the blog when Queerskins got released on Oculus store either) There is almost NO queer content in VR, certainly nothing that shows anything with even a hint of sexuality. Happy to have a discussion with anyone in power. The silence is deafening.
I’m a doctor who works at Rikers Island, (in addition to being a woman director in a male heavy club), so I have to deal with some pretty tough conditions. But, at the end of the day, fighting the boys in tech who own the platforms is what really exhausts me. It is so utterly pointless and demoralizing. STEAMVR there are queer people and, yes, even, lots of straight people, who want to play these experiences because they are incredibly well-made, provocative, and groundbreaking in their use of volumetric video and interactive narrative.
Peabody Futures of Media Award, Games 4 Change XR Finalist, Venice and Tribeca premieres, Venice VR lab alums, funding by Sundance and Tribeca Film Institutes and support from a major corporation and we still have to deal with this. If you have some power in XR, please be an ally, thanks. Illya
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.