Guillermo Montecinos, Lydia Jessup
A human and an axolotl – an amphibian native to Mexico – meet face to face, separated by the glass of an aquarium. Fascinated by each other, they learn to communicate and eventually, turn into one another.
Axolotl is a social VR experience inspired by the short story by Julio Corázar (of the same name) that allows two immersants to embody a human and an axolotl in a trip where the notions of identity and embodiment may not be as logical as expected.
Each immersant starts as one of the characters – the axolotl inside the aquarium or the human on the outside of the glass. A narrator takes them through a story based on Cortazar's magical realism short story – each from their own perspective. The immersants are able to look at each other and gesture across the glass using their VR controllers. By interacting in this way, the immersants can triggers a process in which they begin to turn into one another. When the transition has completed, they have swapped places, embodying the other character on the other side of the glass. The piece concludes with a final narration concluding the story.
Our goal with this piece is to explore the idea of identity and challenge the human/non-human binary. This project uses the affordances of the VR medium to break rules of time and space and to make the immersants consider their humanity and their reality in a different way through new forms of communication.
Video here: https://vimeo.com/377330942
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