Ravensbourne Postgraduate | ‘Accomplices’ – Avatars and other Alter Egos
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‘Accomplices’ – Avatars and other Alter Egos

It’s cold outside, but just before we start looking forward to the holiday season, it’s time for a sneak peek to see how busy our current postgraduate students have been during the first five-week cycle of the 2017/ 2018 year.

Four projects were presented in response to the brief ‘Accomplices’ – Avatars and other Alter Egos, a glimpse into students’ work so far, and the interests and directions they’ll continue to develop throughout the year to come. As October drew to an end, final presentations were given by the students.

Afterlife was the first to be presented, a concept for a company producing a 3D printed ring that can preserve a person’s memories for future generations. An exploration of what an ‘afterlife’ might be, look like or be useful for in the future, was documented and shown through video clips, alongside printed advertising literature, with an animated commercial concluding the presentation.

Sense of Self comprised of an interactive gallery installation which featured two sensory sculptures; one a sound sculpture to investigate the surgical alteration of our physical selves, and another from which a latex ‘skin’ could be peeled away and removed. The effect of using tactile materials and responsive technology was a visceral sense of the lengths to which we will go in our pursuit of beauty ideals and cultural norms.

Talk to the Hand was a wearable experiment in non-verbal communication – a glove facilitating communication through gesture and colour via a lighting sewn into the fingers. This presentation detailed various examples and codes used for non-verbal communication.

Finally, we saw how Kiri, a board game where 3D ‘mother’ trees are connected by smaller ‘child’ trees with the help of augmented reality avatars, might help to educate about the consequences of deforestation on our ecosystems. Players’ move through the game according to their knowledge of ecological facts. Though it follows tradition in the throwing of a dice and answering questions, it is brought up to date by the use of AR and the influence of current ecological debate. Kiri’s concept is inspired by the work of ecologist Suzanne Simard, whose research shows how trees participate within mutually-beneficial relationships with fungi, to ‘talk’ to each other over considerable distances via mycelial networks.

In Gattaca (1997, American Sci-Fi), an agreement between two individuals to stand in as each others alter ego helps both to make their living and fulfill their dreams. With their original bodies being ‘insufficient’ for different reasons they join forces to meet social requirements and succeed in convincing their social environments to belief in the created simulacrum. In a similar manner, we choose avatars to represent ourselves in virtual space: depending on who we are – and more importantly – who we would like to be, these alter egos can be an idealized version of oneself or a completely different one altogether. Taking the differences of physical and digital bodies into account, students were  asked to design an uncommon version of an ‘Accomplice’ with potential  outcome of an  interactive installation, a future narrative delivered through film or performance, or a digital or a physical product.