For this project, I’m working on a virtual reality video essay on the anti-Blackness and transphobia I have experienced in medical spaces, with the help of the Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio, and under the guidance of both my point-of-contact, Alyssa Varner, and my thesis advisor, Inara Verzemnieks. For more info on this nascent project, I’ve included a link to the essay I recently published that inspires it (the VR film will specifically focus on the the section in the essay entitled “He and I”).
I’m excited to say that during the first week of July, I had a Zoom call with point-of-contact, Alyssa Varner, along with folks from the Center for Afrofuturist Studies here in Iowa City. This was especially exciting for me because I believe that my project is fundamentally Afrofuturist; it explores both the possibilities and limitations of technology when it comes to telling timeless Black stories. In my dream world, I would work with CAS to create a gallery space where my audience experiences my project. My team and I would deliberately design this space for single audience members to enter and put on the VR headset, wherein they would let enter the space of my virtual video essay. This is all blue-sky thinking, but I would be so interested to think about what the process would be like to design this room–to work with both production designers and “choreographers” who would be able to help me block the movements of the user, so that they would mimic my movements in the essay (as I move from the couch to the bathroom, for example). Would we recreate the room so that it mirrors my living room? A doctor’s office? Some twisted combination of the two? This is one of my favorite parts of working in film production (and a strength I think I would bring to project management): how much I genuinely enjoy collaboration — I love getting groups of skilled, passionate people together around a common goal and just letting them do their thing.
Alas, in the current landscape the above scenario is not really possible, but talking to the Afrofuturists in Iowa City and the other folks at Public Space One was a wonderful experience. They were extremely excited about my project and my vision, even in the long term–we were talking about potential timelines out in 2021 and beyond, and their contacts working in VR and film in Los Angeles and New York. That was an incredible feeling, to discover that I am working within an entire network of Black VR artists and filmmakers and not even know it.