Development + realisation of the INTER/her project.
“INTER/her was initially envisioned as a fully immersive Mixed Reality experience, featuring actors interacting with visitors within the intimate inner world. ”
Visitors begin their experience by being dressed with a haptic corset by a guide, then fitted with a VR headset before crawling through the vaginal-style opening into the tent.
The small dome tent space is furnished similarly to the virtual starting space in order to assist orientation. It was created for no more than three seated people at any one time, positioned in low-level bean bag chairs.
Once settled, the guide will check the positioning of the headsets and the virtual experience will begin.
“As one enters and moves through several connected virtual spaces, 360° images showcase the many post-reproductive concerns inside the female body.”
“Bespoke imagery displays different states of disease or dysfunction, and yet are seen overlaid with beautiful, positive aspects promoting the essence of woman.”
“Design influences include so-called “vaginal” artworks, historical goddesses, crones, Pagan & Wicca symbols, flowers and nature.”
- Camille Baker
Artistic Director, INTER/her
Choosing which VR platform we would be delivering on became a major factor in how we moved forward with the artwork. We made the choice of using the Android-based Oculus Quest 2 headset based on budget, wirelessness and access.
The choice brought its own creative constraints but we fully leant into those to make the best of what we had.
- Maf’j Alvarez
Interaction Designer, INTER/her
“We spent days experimenting with environments and materials to see which would work well. We especially played with subsurface scattering – the effect you get when light shines behind a translucent material like a candle or finger in front of a torch.”
“Designing the user experience was also a dimension we experimented with. We had to consider how much agency to give a user, either allowing them to move and turn around freely or heavily guiding them along a path to focus their attention more on the stories.”
We imagined each participant fitted with a bespoke, specially-designed wearable garment, provisionally called the Haptic Corset.
Adjustable for all sizes – unlike its historical precendents – the Haptic Corset is embedded with vibration motors located in different areas around the abdomen of the wearer.
These motors vibrate with different patterns and intensities depending upon which story they are triggered by, accompanied by the animated objects and stories experienced within the VR journey.
Voices and stories heard inside the virtual space were gathered from women wishing to help other women, and hoping to make their stories heard. Topics include:
– Painful endometriosis / periods.
– Menopause symptoms.
– Cysts, fibroids, polyps.
– “Chocolate” ovarian cysts.
– Ovarian, cervical, uterine, vaginal, endometrial and peritoneal cancer.
– Voiced excerpts from feminist literature.
These recordings were edited into a layered 3D audio soundscape; voices recounting their own unique journeys, gradually building an extremely personal, emotional, and possibly haunting experience.
Along with these stories, the soundscape includes voiced-over excerpts from the following books:
“Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” by Caroline Criado Perez, exploring the way in which Western healthcare systems frequently fail to diagnose or support women in pain and disease.
“WOMAN: An Intimate Geography” by Natalie Angier looks at the biology dimension, exploring concerns of mortality, but also a survivalist sense to cleanse the body, to heal it; positioning the physical body as a site to explore psychological issues of womanhood and the sense of self. Exploring the body – vagina, uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bleeding, pain and endometriosis, which in some cases can invade all over the abdominal cavity.