Virtual Reality and Glitch Art


Clouds Over Sidra is an 8-minute VR film chronicling the daily life of a 12 year-old Syrian refugee living in Z'atari Camp in Jordan.  The film is directed by Gabo Arora and Chris Milk. The film was featured at an installation on the UN Plaza called "We the Peoples Hub." In addition to viewing the film, participants could step into a portal, designed by artist Amar Bakshi, where they could converse with someone in an identical in Z'atari camp. Also participating in the event was a collective called BeAnotherLab who has created a device/set-up involving mirrors, VR goggles, and a series of actions that trick the minds of two participants into believing they are in each other's bodies.  It's called The Machine to Be Another. 

I wasn't so impressed by the film in itself.  The place and story are important but the older woman's voiceover is distracting and distancing.  And while it gives us an overview of the camp, the p.o.v. lacks intimacy and feels voyeuristic rather than intertwined.  I think combining the film, Portals, and The Machine to Be Another into one system would be a fantastic way to encourage empathy and interconnectivity.  And get that installation out of the UN and onto the streets of NYC!  Or better yet, the streets of American communities with strong anti-immigration beliefs.  Then give the participants a course of action and ways they can connect with politicians.  

Glitch Art

In Daniel Temkin's essay, Glitch & Human/Computer Interaction, he emphasizes that glitch artists are not trying to break the system, but introducing - and documenting - a sort of controlled entropy that can exist within the system.  In this way, he argues, it becomes a conversation, a collaboration, between human and the machine. To control, or domesticate the glitch, would be the equivalent of creating a Photoshop filter, according to Rosa Menkman. 

I'm not sure about the cultural or technical reasons for not controlling the glitch, but so much of the language in this essay made me think of the desire to anthropomorphize. 

Clement Valla's iconoclashes series is a good example of algorithmic glitch art: