Virtual ISLANDs by Olivia Mc Gilchrist

Virtual ISLANDs explores the relationship between the experience of virtual immersion in VR and the physicality of being submerged, offering viewers audio-visual interpretations of the ebb and flow of water around them. The project invites a reading of VR’s virtual space foregrounding submersion alongside immersion, to highlight the relation between water and fluid identities, inspired by my dual Caribbean and European heritage. In earlier versions of Virtual ISLANDS, I explored the affordance of my white privilege through the lens of hybridity by visualizing my body coming in and out of the artwork’s visual plane. In Virtual ISLANDs’ current VR experience, the viewer is placed in an aquatic scene where they can interact with the moving figure of Newfoundlander aerial performer Keely Whitelaw. Her choreographed performance portrays a gestural response to an original composition by Newfoundlander electronic composer Kasey Pocius, inspired by a virtual experience of being underwater.

Olivia Mc Gilchrist (she / her) is a white French-Jamaican multimedia artist and doctoral candidate exploring how colonial legacies extend their reach to Virtual Reality (VR) technology. She works with video, multimedia installation and VR both as an artist and a consultant on interdisciplinary and audio-visual performance based projects.

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