Queerskins: a love story updates–I’m sorry Oscar

Devastating. Oscar Raby (VRTOV) once advised me that I shouldn’t flay the user alive when writing a script for #VR.  I started out this move into VR by writing an experience based on the truckstop scene in Queerskins online. It’s basically the first time S. has sex. It was going to be abstract, but obvious and especially for heterosexual men intensely disturbing. All the gay men I shared the idea with loved it. Here is a still from the text online. queerskins screenshot

The picture of St. Theresa in Ecstasy by Bernini is my own, the video is from Derek Jarman’s erotic first feature Sebastiane (Jarman and Genet were muses for all of Queerskins). Eventually, I realized there was no way I would ever be able to make this, so the script morphed. But, it remains emotionally eviscerating. The proximity of the user to the drama between Sebastian’s parents in the front seat means they experience it viscerally. Rehearsals have been a kind of emotional bloodletting. So, I took Oscar’s advice, but then I kind of didn’t.

Can not thank the actors enough, Hadley Boyd as Mary-Helen and Drew Moore as Ed for their skill and commitment. They have given it their all and we end rehearsals hugging each other because it is so raw and painful. Cyril has put up a new page, so follow us there for more updates and information. Sorry, Oscar.

Missouri Here We Come

Progress on Queerskins VR.

We are flying to Missouri with Richard Hammer to shoot 360 video landscapes. In all our work, we are interested in the tension between the very human desire for transcendence through storytelling, art making, love, religion and now, VR, and embodied, material, historical reality. That is why it is so critical to us to actually haul ourselves to the places we write about. look for a photo travel log here and on Instagram/Twitter @atomicvacation.  missouri-river-valley-steve-karol

VR MX Fest photos and recap

Cyril and I went to give a workshop on Intro to Storytelling in VR and I gave a keynote about that based on our experience with Atomic Vacation. Both went really well. Our hosts were amazingly gracious and the creative energy was magic. Here are some shots of the workshop, venue, and afterparty. The students were so engaged. Can’t wait to see what VR experiences start coming out of Mexico! Also, yes, that’s me with a virtual man at the Post office in Mexico City. I make friends wherever I go.

Revisiting Reconstructing Mayakovsky

Almost nine years old now and still going strong. Reconstructing Mayakovsky has been written about and taught on the university level as an example of experimental literature and narrative game.  Check it out if you haven’t yet–like all our stuff it is free!

Mechanism b which you can play with on the site

is a seriously playful investigation of the power of language. It is concrete poetry for the Twitter age–the novel in ten words–lovingly picked by me for their sound, meaning or remix potential then randomly chosen from that list of 500 or so words by the computer. In the parenthesis you see the number of times the word appears in the “novel.” Clicking on the word brings you into one of the chapters where it is found. The beauty and surprise of these poems comes from the peculiar combination of my own desires and the computer algorithm (a process which has taken over the entirety of writing Atomic Vacation)
SUCK PEACOCK and MUNIFICENT BITCH are the luck of the draw!

Atomic Vacation update

Reworking the script to accommodate the lure of haptics. We are still children in this world, we want to touch everything. To touch is to know–our bodily orientation and movements were the beginning of language. Lakoff and Johnson showed this beautifully in their amazing book Metaphors We Live By. I have been drawn to Japanese Noh for just this reason. I took a workshop on it and was excited to hear the performer call it literature through movement.  In my research on Noh (despite a valiant effort last summer, I can not speak Japanese so my reading is limited to a very small pool of writing about Noh in English) I found the perfect rhythm for Atomic Vacation which begins slowly with few objects and activities and builds stepwise to a chaos of activity that stops suddenly when the time is up. Last weekend, I reshot Tomi Heady playing Rae in her cell phone farewell to Shizuku. Originally, I had use postproduction filters to bring up the contrast almost erasing Tomi’s features so that her face resembled a mask. For this reshoot, I shot using bright light and shadow and the mask of her face is doubled by having the Noh mask in the background. I needed to add some  props that users will recognize in the Atomic Vacation environment to Rae’s farewell video. They needed to come from “real life.”  This is what plays in Shizuku’s “mind” when she cuts the feed to Earth. It is what prompts her search for and creation of a “living” memory of Rae. In my script it serves to ignite the same desire to know (to touch) Rae  in the user as well. You can see the video on our Facebook dev blog  Here are some stills. Astute manga loving players will catch the shout out to the kick-ass women at CLAMP.