The TH Köln is funding the project DEBUG – VR Experience Against Racism with 1,000 Euros as part of the transfer fund. With the funding, DEBUG will be further developed and exhibited at more events. The next DEBUG exhibition will take place on 5 November 2022 as part of the Kölner Museumsnacht in the Motion Experience Lab (MXL) of the KISD.
The transfer fund of TH Köln supports transdisciplinary teaching research projects that are characterised by mutual exchange between research institutions, civil society, business, culture and politics. The aim is for students to research socially relevant issues together with non-university partners and thus develop career-oriented competences and a sustainable “researching attitude”. The funding will be used to develop DEBUG further and to participate in future events, including the Kölner Museumsnacht on 5 November 2022 as part of the Motion Experience Show at KISD.
VR makes racist microaggressions tangible
DEBUG is a virtual reality (VR) installation that allows participants to virtually experience the discomfort, dissonance and disruption caused by racist microaggressions. Microaggressions manifest as frequent verbal or behavioural attacks. They convey pejorative attitudes towards stigmatised people, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The installation offers participants a space to reflect on their prejudices, learn empathy for stigmatised people and deconstruct racist systems.
How DEBUG was created in the Motion Experience Lab at KISD
DEBUG began in the winter semester of 2021 as a mid-term project by the design students Dario Morazán and Theodora Karagianni in KISD’s Image & Motion teaching and research department under the supervision of Prof. Juric. In the associated Motion Experience Lab (MXL), they worked on the third edition of the VRenice Beach project series for eight weeks, under the freely interpretable title “Desert Feel / Reel Estate”. In a so-called practice-based research approach, the focus is on ideas, questions and designs of digital, virtual and surreal experiences and spaces with the aim of exploring artistic, partly interactive spatial installations as audio-visual communication formats, which is not so easy during Corona restrictions. The project participants create artistic artefacts with the help of digital production technologies in the field of expanded cinema, virtual reality and animation, including motion tracking, DMX gesture control, motorised winches and 3D software.
DEBUG interprets “Desert Feel” as the feeling of powerlessness and loneliness often reported by people who have to endure racist experiences. It is taken up visually in the VR experience through the vast, empty desert landscape. VR is particularly suitable for DEBUG because it allows a change of perspective. Due to its immersive character, VR also has a long-lasting effect, which should motivate participants to actively deal with the topic of racism. The following questions will be further investigated with the work:
Can VR help to deconstruct racism? What potential does VR have for awareness raising and sustainable behavioural change in relation to racism? What are the possibilities for increasing or decreasing affectivity in VR experiences? How does self-perception change through VR?
DEBUG at re:publica 2022 in Berlin
This summer DEBUG was exhibited at re:publica in Berlin from 8 – 10 June 2022. The festival for digital society is the largest of its kind in Europe. It counted a total of 21,000 visits over the three days of the festival. The feedback from participants and organisers was very positive. Participants particularly liked the metaphorical interpretation of microaggressions and the immersive character of the installation. Many visitors expressed interest in using the VR experience in their professional, (high) school or private contexts for anti-racist education work. Due to the positive response at re:publica, the next goal is to exhibit DEBUG at other events. In addition, a format for an anti-racism workshop is to be developed that builds on the VR experience.
Next DEBUG exhibition: Museumsnacht Köln
When? 5 November 2022
Where? Motion Experience Lab (MXL) of the KISD, Ubierring 40, 50678 Cologne, 4th floor on the right.
Further information on DEBUG: https://www.debug-experience.com/