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Francis Galton in Evolution VR Game by Esther Appleyard FoxRows of books line the walls of Francis Galton’s study and in front of you there are specimen jars containing imagined curios representing characteristics such as compassion, humor, creativity, health, ability and productivity.  The specimens are labeled and categorized explaining each of their unique properties. The viewer is asked to make their own selection from these objects based on what they consider valuable and place them in their own cabinet of curiosities in order to be preserved. 

After they have made their selection they are presented with a series of consequences which are a result of the selections they have made.  What might a world with only health and logic be like, with no compassion or humour? 

Requiring the viewer to actively make choices places the onus of responsibility on that individual.   This is reflective of current day policies on genetic screening, where choice for that individual is only presented as a being a positive thing.  However there is little public discussion about the pressures and difficulties that come with choice and having to make these life changing decisions.  Did you make the “correct” choice? Evolution aims to show the viewer that perhaps the least rational decisions produce the most welcomed and positive consequences, or in fact that trying to make any choices lead only to disappointment as balance and diversity cannot be achieved.

The work will enable audiences to take a step back and reconsider contemporary ideas about classification and value.  The elements of fantasy within the experience will create a playful environment with humour playing a key part in the work.  This will enable audiences not to feel like they are being judged, but instead will ask them to examine more closely the whole process and way we make choices and value judgments.  The experience will mix the real and imagined, future and past, performer and viewer.

Time travel itself seems more plausible when you have a headset on, as you are already primed to enter a new dimension.  VR is the perfect vehicle to speak to audiences about this theme and transport them to another era. It is also intended that this experience will look at ways to make VR and immersive technologies more accessible to deaf disabled people.

Evolution is currently in the development phase and it will be presented as part of SICK Festival in Manchester September 2019 (see full programme here).  The ambition is to the develop the final work including feedback from the first presentation to create a more nuanced piece for up to four players with elements of live performance.


You can view the trailer to Evolution below.