Video from VR installation at Carpenter Center of Art, 5/2022

VR installation with projection. 2022- (ongoing).

Along with climate change, modernization brings on a global disenchantment of nature towards an assumption of humans as the only beings with a mental presence, a monomyth that legitimizes the exploitation of the other beings in the name of progress. ShapeShifters is a futuristic parable that imagines cross-species evolutionary response by metamorphosing into bodies of “Otherness” as quasi-animals, also known as fauna fantastica. This fantastical speculation contemplates the extremity on the evolutionary calamities of animals under future climate hardships. The animals are AI-generated from a database of real animals, and in the incrementally heating VR world they can shapeshift incrementally.

Climate change has affected evolution of many endothermic species, mammals and birds, and according to a meta-analysis on Cell, most of their shapeshifting concentrate on enlarging body parts that best dissipate heat. Science is converging with ancestral knowledge of animal metamorphosis in myths and fables, both mode of knowledge relevant to the ways we perceive and understand climate change. Fables and myths are versions that disguise a cosmic truth under fictional appearances. As the Marshall McLuhan quote, that “technology forces us to live mythically,” science and technology converge with and confirm myth – the ancient point of view from peoples that have had profound ties with their land since the beginning of time. I am particularly interested in conceptualizing nonhumans in the zone between the future and the ancient.

Shapeshifters’ first VR installation was shown in the AFVS Open Studio at Carpenter Center in May, 2022. This project is ongoing and will seek collaboration with natural history museums to launch an AR app in which specimens will evoke shapeshifters.