Can a system existing in rigid order be taken back to a state of malleability, a space of potential not yet actualized?
If creation reduces the infinite to produce the finite, then in the simplest sense, creation is the process of bringing something tangible, real, out of the ether—out of the primordial chaos of possibility. The technique of defamiliarization can be viewed as an agent of de-creation, the active reversal of creation, in order to make creation possible once again. As such it holds spiritual power in its own right.
In pursuit of this state of renewed potentiality, I use methods of defamiliarization to draw my audiences into immersive, participatory narrative environments that precipitate encounters with and within alternate non-social contexts—nature, death, deep space, the dreaming world. In these often ineffably vast spaces, rigid spatial, temporal, and sensory parameters are manipulated, disrupting perceptual orientation. There is an infinite stepping in and stepping out of this space of potential, allowing for symbolic expressions of an inward story to unfold. From this suspended vantage point, the present is turned into uncharted territory.
De-Creation Myths, virtual reality, 2021
Decreation Myths is a large-scale immersive VR experience that addresses creation myths, the stories we tell about who we are and where we come from. This project takes the visitor on a journey from landscape to landscape, starting zoomed out and gradually honing-in—from pre-creation, to cosmos, to the natural world, to the human world, and finally to the singular person.
Through shifts in perception and sensory embodied experience1, the visitor’s relationship to the environment around them is challenged; new modes of interaction arise organically from the inadequacy of the old. These environments are entirely navigable by the visitor and responsive to their presence. While the narrative sequence of the environments is linear, the visitor decides how to conduct themselves, how long to spend within each environment, and whether to progress forward at all. And while certain actions are rewarded by progression to the next chapter, the ultimate focus is on the atmospheric resonance of simply being present in these digital spiritual spaces.
Over a three-month period, I designed and constructed all environments and assets from scratch, using Unity and Blender. The experience features sound prominently; I composed the musical theme, while the ambient soundscapes were collected from various sources, including NASA and National Geographic recordings.
This film was shot from within the VR experience. In this sense, it is both a narrative documentation of my journey through my own constructed landscape, and an invitation for others -- a hopeful offering of an enchanted, concentrated view of life on earth.
De-Creation Myths, virtual reality, 2021
I Shall Create As I Speak
This project, created during my participation in the RISD/Hyundai Research Collaborative, combines type design, video and installation to address humanity’s, and my own personal, attempt to communicate with nature. In our quest to extract meaning out of the world surrounding us, we seek patterns, structures, symbols. On one hand, this mode of conversation may be deceptive—in imposing our inner world onto the natural world, we run the risk of misunderstanding it. On the other hand, this process is inherent to the human condition. It’s simply who we are; as humans, our communication is directly connected to self-expression, to the act of creation. We create language, we tell stories.
Abracadabra, translated from Aramaic and Classical Hebrew, quite literally means I shall create as I speak.
Based on macro photography and microscopy studies of the natural landscape, I designed a library of foundational elements from the domains of earth, air and water. I further used this library to form two parallel narratives:
One, the attempt to understand, to make meaning. Letterforms can
be seen as the molecular foundations of human communication, whether written or verbal—I designed an organic, living/dead typeface.
Two, the embrace of non-understanding and the psychological, emotional and spiritual experience of simply being in nature. Here, I used the same elements to construct a speculative digital landscape, and created a video showcasing a process of slow, atmospheric exploration through it.
What does it mean to understand nature? To communicate with it? How do we edge closer to this possible/impossible goal, just outside of reach? And what do we learn, as a people and as individuals, from this never-ending—never truly succeeding yet never truly failing—process?
I Shall Create As I Speak, type design, 2022
- Design Engineering
- Digital + Media
- Furniture Design
- Global Arts and Cultures
- Graphic Design
- Industrial Design
- Interior Architecture
- Jewelry + Metalsmithing
- Landscape Architecture
- Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies