Film in VR, investigating relationship between power in queer sex, the vulnerable dancing body and voiceovers. Made in collaboration with Ana De Matos for the Live Art Development Agency (LADA).

“Do you feel safe?” 

Self Portrait Experiments in 360

Concept and Direction Crispin Lord
: Ana De Matos, Crispin Lord and Jasmine Darlington

This film builds on the ideas explored in a series of sound-based performances I made in collaboration with composer Jonathan Packham, using VR scores and motion tracking electronics to investigate the relationship between VR and queerness. Self Portrait Experiments in 360 was filmed in Leeds during a three-day performance lab with the Live Art Development Agency, led by Ana De Matos of Chameleon Eye Films and Performance Artist Ria Hartley.

Structurally, this film alternates between clips of myself on a stage responding physically to videos in an Oculus headset, and several performance actions in a smaller space, which we can assume are what I’m watching on the stage. With this film I highlight the significance of process in the development of VR as an artistic medium. For example, each of the performances in the small black space were drawn from improvisations and responses to questions I was asking myself with the piece. By also providing a complimentary video of me testing the final footage (Self Portrait Experiments in 360 TEST), I reaffirm that the process involved in making the object is also itself the object.

At the core of the devising process was a desire to investigate the relationship between power dynamics in queer sex, the vulnerable dancing body, and voiceovers. Consequently, this film also explores the role of the “immersed viewer” and its inherent conflicts; perverted or innocent, powerful or powerless, and so on. The low-fi voicover guides the viewer through the experience but, like the performance events it “narrates”, largely avoids explicit instruction. The viewer is left to work out what they are ‘meant’ to be doing in this VR space. Coupled with the elevated, stationary, bodiless camera position, this unsettles the viewer and their autonomy and power is called into question.