Would you literally step into someone else’s body?
In Los Angeles, there’s art project that looks like it could be from the set of the horror movie The Silence of the Lambs. But in actuality, it offered an experiential space that gives visitors a unique opportunity to become someone else by wearing a reproduction of another person’s skin.
And in doing so, it raised exciting possibilities for creating a whole new level of immersion with bodyswapping.
Walking a mile in someone else’s skin
Ultra-realistic skinsuits hung suspended in the Superchief Gallery as part of artist Sarah Sitkin’s Bodysuits exhibition that ran until the end of March. There visitors were able to both inspect and don her creations, which she made using special effects techniques common in motion pictures.
The bodies were not idealized, but rather showed a remarkably diverse range of ages and—through scars and tattoos—lifelike experiences. Some of the suits also featured interior cloth lining, allowing those interested to wear their new skin in comfort and even see themselves in a mirrored space.
In her Artist’s Statement, Siktin wrote: “Our universal detachment with our bodies leads us through a lifetime of serious divides, between fantasy and reality for what our bodies should and could be.”
A fascinating new addition to immersive entertainment?
Sitkin may not have had immersive entertainment in mind when starting her project. However, it’s her “between fantasy and reality” concept that makes her exhibition interesting to people who follow developments in virtual reality and haptic technology.
Where VR is mostly visual, what Sitkin did is create a much more direct and immediate form of immersion: where users will actually feel like they are someone else.
Looking at her skinsuits, and especially seeing the participants reactions to wearing them, it’s fascinating to imagine combining Sitkin’s approach with haptic feedback and virtual reality headgear to create an even more powerful sensory experience.
The user wouldn’t just be able to see through someone else eyes or simply feel what they are encountering in VR through the haptic gear. They would also directly feel the weight, texture, and movement of being inside someone else’s body.
Therapeutic uses as well?
Going even further this could even become an invaluable tool for transgender individuals, allowing them to experience the physical sensations of having their correct gender.
Not to mention the recreational uses, what with being able to wear a reproduction of someone else’s physical form: what happens to gender and ethnic prejudices when you can quite literally walk a mile in someone else’s skin?
Speaking of Sitkin’s show to Good, the co-founder of the Superchief Gallery, Bill Dunleavy, said it perfectly: “It’s meant to communicate that our bodies are not the holders of our identity.”
Image sources: TREND TV