— AlexiaKay

VR Final “Normal Day”

Normal day is a women-centric virtual reality installation that explores the
interrelated dynamics of trauma, empathy and connection.  Inside the VR interface, the user witnesses an autobiographical monologue performed by performance artist Tatiana Kot regarding experiences with breast cancer and double mastectomy, as well as an autobiographical monologue performed a second artist (tba)
exorcising an abusive childhood. After the user explores the body narratives, they move on to an interactive piece involving two VR users. The users stand in front of the other and each sees the same woman in front of them. She asks them to hold her hand or hug her for comfort. The VR users approach the woman, they unknowingly come into contact with each other, performing a
tactile connection with complete strangers.

We hope to allow people to re-experience the intensity of “the caring touch” in new
light. In the context of the bodily and mental devastation of sickness and violence, the caring
touch becomes not just a performative gesture or symbol of affection but a deliberate attempt
interpersonal healing. Such touch is pregnant with the human urge to transcend the self and
care for an Other.

Our artistic endeavor it to explore how the physical traumas of sickness and violence damage
the mind through the body, and how touching cares for the mind despite its inability to
explicitly heal the body. In times when everything virtual becomes more real (we are
enworlded by social media and gadgets that accompany us like caring parents on a day-today
basis as much as we are by material reality), we imagine the VR world as an opportunity
to make connections in the real world. Our shared fascination with the technology and its
abilities led us to the conception of an interactive VR journey where no profluency is possible
unless the user performs physical connection (touch, holding hands etc.) in real time.
Therefore, our main creative and technical challenge is to construct the cues
embedded in the stories that will be influence the viewer on an intuitive level without
offering explicit instructions (e.g.- to touch the body of a VR character). That is to say, the
users’ actions required for the propulsion of the story should occur intuitively. As a result this
project requires us to create both the specific technological apparatus as well as the particular
narrative constructs propped up by said apparatus.

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