Video Stills, virtual reality installation, Foyer Gallery, School of Design, University of Leeds, invited by Eirini Boukla, 2019/2020
The VR experience was created for the solo exhibition “The Forest of Query” @ The Foyer, School of Design, University of Leeds in December 2019/2020. The immersive installation featured sculpture, print, photography, text & captions in display cabinets and the trailer for a VR experience in progress. During the opening night visitors could also preview the VR experience for the first time. Composer & musician Hutch Demouilpied created a sketch for a sound – track that features a filmic, intricate and atmospheric composition.
The virtual reality journey features a peaceful forest environment in a post – apocalyptic world that is inhabited by magical creatures. The unique way of developing a virtual world from analogue folded photographs sets it apart from the usual CGI characters and creates sculptures that come alive through animation & sound. Visitors were taken on a “magic carpet ride” seated on a giant leaf that flies through a dark, yet beautiful winter forest. During the journey, the visitor has close-up encounters with the magical characters that live in the Sory Colony. They are part human, part robot, partly beast and part mythological creature and of no specific race or gender. The aim of the journey is to arrive at the The Lake of All Problems & Solutions before sunset and join the colonists that swim in the lake to collect the Oracle leaves shed by Sory, the-only-born-in-water-tree. After landing the visitor floats among the creatures surrounded by giant Oracle leaves that can tell one’s destiny.
The narrative and the captions for the characters were developed in collaboration with performative writer Veronica B. who invented the fantastic world of the Sory Colony and gave names and stories to the creatures that inhabit the forest, such as Eliza Alexandra the giant violet sculpture, Brotimia the swan sphinx, Promodorio with the Cretan bulls head, Miseya the Egyptian princess, Denchie the horse woman and Sory-the-only-born-in-water-tree, a giant Oracle tree in the lake.
The visuals were inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s romantic, yet surreal landscape paintings and the time spent at the Mac Dowell Colony of the Arts in Peterborough, NH/ USA working in a remote artist studio in the dark winter forest.