Somewhere 200 years in the future, on the ruins of an inhospitable Anthropocene, after climate change has changed the world beyond recognition, Symbiosis takes place. This post-human biotope might be rich and teaming with new artificial or enhanced biochemical life: new genetically altered life forms, (chemical) robots, hybrid technologies, and/or autonomous intelligent systems. They are all sharing resources, habitats, bodies and information in an inclusive way on the premise of: Symbiosis.
Symbiosis is a performative, multiuser and multisensory VR installation in which the human body will be redesigned. It allows every participant to embody a post-human or even nonhuman reality: a completely symbiotic human-animal or human-technologic relationship. Dutch experience design collective POLYMORF investigates in a speculative way how a more symbiotic exchange of genetic, cultural and technological traits between people and other present or future living entities can increase or change the agency of all. How will such affect future coexistence, legal rights and relationships between humans and all other living entities on a physical, emotional and spiritual level?
Symbiosis uses VR as a theatrical and philosophical tool to design an embodied multi-sensory experience. Within Symbiosis, the visitor is both spectator and performer. The installation consists of a performative space that offers a multi-user VR experience. Each experience is describing a specific symbiotic human-animal or human-technologic relationship. By choosing one of the stories, the visitor selects a character and role in the overall story world. All participants play a different symbiotic role in each other’s individual lives and all characters come together at the end of the experience to join in a shared food experience. Within the performance, the physical body of the visitor is used as a muscle to control his/her speculative virtual body. Each experience will come with a uniquely designed soft robotic wearable enabling various haptic bodily interactions manipulations and interactions.
The individual VR experiences build towards a collective eating ritual, sharing virtual and real foods, and the virtual body as food. For this, a series of specially designed snacks will infuse the virtual food with unexpected taste sensations.The all-vegetarian snacks are designed by Dutch Michelin-starred restaurant Karpendonkse Hoeve master chefs. Symbiosis is inspired by Donna Haraway’s book Staying With The Trouble and The Camille Stories: Children of Compost making physically tangible posthuman body architectures within a post humanistic social context, questioning current Humanistic, Anthropocentric and Liberal beliefs.