John Twycross, Eric White & Fridolin Wild
JOHN TWYCROSS, ERIC WHITE & FRIDOLIN WILD
Small Group Project 2021
UNBODY is a Mixed Reality (MR) Hololens installation co-created by award-winning poet Jay Bernard, Eric White (Oxford Brookes University), Fridolin Wild (Open University), and John Twycross (University College London). In the exhibit, holographic texts and film clips spill from dayglow billboards and totems. Bernard probes the boundaries between identity and consciousness, using trans poetics to explore how words haunt and re-create our physical selves in an extended, hybridised reality. The exhibit also departs from the graphic-centric worlds of Virtual Reality (VR) and MR to explore their textual and aural dimensions.
UNBODY emerged from workshops organised by the development team with local BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled youth groups, plus UK and European libraries, MakerSpaces, and museums. Its purpose is to inspire young people and break down preconceptions that place boundaries between creative and technical practices, as well as on notions of gender, sexuality, and embodiment. Bernard’s work explores being black, queer and trans in Britain, making them the perfect exemplar of this artist-led co-creation project.
The exhibit forms a ‘virtuous circle’ with the workshops, providing young people with a palette of ideas to develop for their own VR stories after the event. UNBODY debuted at Oxford Brookes University (OBU) in February 2020, shortly before the pandemic locked down public events. Thanks to a £25K CILIP ‘Building Bridges’ grant, the national and international community workshops programme can continue via remote learning. However, staging UNBODY in its present form is unviable. Therefore we seek to: a) create CV-19 protocols for the UNBODY exhibit; b) upgrade exhibit materials to museum quality; c) run an UNBODY exhibition event for workshop collaborators using standard mobile devices in addition to Hololenses; d) create toolkits that will benchmark best practices; and e) produce publications that summarise these practices and introduce pioneering conceptual frameworks in digital humanities research.