Lunchtime Talk
Fri 28 Aug 2020 13:00-14:00 at YouTube Live

Far from Paradise - Radically Re-imagining Social VR

Resident Tessa examines the exclusionary repercussions of designing Virtual Reality for a uniform ‘ideal user’, & explores the potential of social VR to generate new visions of public life, community & connectedness.

Far from paradise c/o Tessa Ratuszynska

An ADA architectural standards image of a wheelchair user, with their arms outstretched, as seen from the side and from the front. They wear a VR headset. The image includes a number of measurements of their limbs, chair, and range of motion labeled ‘Men’, ‘Women’ and ‘Youths’. The image has been altered by the artist to include the headset, and to resemble a stereoscopic image as used with 3D glasses. Red and green on white background. c/o Tessa Ratuszynska


Tessa Ratuszynska

Tessa is an artist working in Documentary, 360 Film and Installation, and a Creative Producer for VR and AR experiences, interactive games, performance, installation and immersive digital live art festivals and events.

This Lunchtime Talk will be broadcast live on Watershed's YouTube channel

In February, Tessa joined the Bristol and Bath Creative R&D ‘Expanded Performance’ research cohort, with a project exploring multi-user VR chat spaces, or ‘Social VR’, as emerging sites of ‘liveness’, ’togetherness’ and ‘performance’. 

In this talk Tessa considers how exclusion (and ultimately violence) have been ‘designed in’ to the architecture, avatars and interactivity of social VR. Tessa questions what is ‘performable’ inside spaces currently calibrated to a white, male, ableist conception of an ideal user. Their speculative design project explores new visions of Social VR made to subvert, queer and abandon this ‘ideal’. What could avatars look like? How could they move? How would users communicate, talk and touch inside virtual worlds designed around alternative visions of ideal users and communities.

Tessa will also discuss the responsibilities of Virtual Designers to respond to Real World problems, and attempt to articulate the impacts lockdown and global activist movements have had on this project. Finally, Tessa questions how this project can center the voices most critical to the re-imagining of public social space both on-and-off-line. 

Tessa is a resident of the Pervasive Media Studio and a PhD Candidate at the University of the West of Scotland. Their practice-based research explores queer perspectives in Virtual Reality documentary.

Join us on Fri 28th August, 13:00-14:00 for the talk and to take part in the discussion afterwards.

Watch live on YouTube

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Upcoming Events

Credit: José-Hernández-Día
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