Claudia Miranda
UX + XR designer, new media artist, and content creator living in Oakland, CA

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AMaze Berlin 2018 Hyper-Talk

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The following is a transcript of my talk.

Hello - My name is Claudia Miranda and i’m a Mexican artist and designer living in Oakland, CA. Any other Mexicans? (there was one hand that went up). This is my first time in Berlin and i don't know anyone here so if this resonates with you please say hello afterwards and be my friend.

So i’m going to talk to you today about my process making a VR experience called soft dissolve as part of an art / technology incubator i was a part of in SF.

My art has always been personal. my experience growing up as an immigrant in the late 90’s was isolating and my internet connected computer became a literal window into the world. the internet became my solace. a place to learn about anything I was curious about and connect with weirdos from around the world. such as y’all.

I became somewhat obsessed with exploring my own identity and personality through online profiles. my mediated self. these profiles became a type a performance art where I tried on personas. these data points at times became something to ground me when i felt my sense of self waver. 

Further, as a counterbalance to my professional work as a product designer, i let myself run with whatever motifs and mediums i’m drawn to in my personal work. And it was with this meandering intent that i created Soft Dissolve.

My marketing savvy friend helped me come up with this spiffy description of my project because when people asked me to describe it I would just say… “idk, i want to make people feel like they are dying. in a nice way.”
 

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Soft Dissolve is a diffused and enveloping virtual reality environment which invites the viewer to experience a sensation of dissociation. It is an environmental uncanny valley; a mixture of the familiar and the eerie confronting the viewer with unconscious, repressed impulses. Both relaxing and alien, Soft Dissolve will envelop you in a slowly spreading uneasiness.

Basically - Its a monochrome forest with discordant audio, and when you lay down ( as a metaphor for surrender ), it transforms into a colorful forest complete with looping heartbeat, ethereal music and birdsong. A very simple performative experience that is made powerful by the immersive capabilities of VR. There is no score. No way to win or lose.

This talk is not about that piece tho. I wan’t to share with you an aha! moment I had with this work in progress at an open studio as part of the incubator….

I was demoing my project when a young woman who was a traditional artist asked me; “How do you know when it is done?” - it was a good question and one I know I’m not the first new-media artist to grapple with. digital media can be fussed and tweakd with endlessly. a liberating but sometimes frightening aspect of the medium. Particularly when the work is personal in nature and informed by fluctuating identity and feelings.

My quick answer in the moment was something like: “There is a certain mood I am aiming for. I don’t know what it is but I will keep tweaking this until I get nail it. i will just know. “

  Photo by    __Tyu

Photo by __Tyu

Afterwards, I tried to put myself into that mood so I could define it. And it was in this investigative processing that realized I was trying to share a type of discomfort and relief I felt when I was emotionally overwhelmed.

I was disassociating - to various degrees. (File under things that are obvious to everyone but me? - like so much of what therapy is.)

Once I realized this about myself - I was able to more easily recognize the almost automatic urge to call on this coping mechanism under stress. Recognizing it was the first step towards acceptance and eventually replacing it with more effective coping mechanisms .This has improved my quality of life tremendously because I'm a sensitive person and life is perpetual stress.`

So in conclusion, by sharing this bit about my work and process, I hope to encourage you to
1. Join a community where you feel safe to explore ambiguous ideas and expose your work to feedback.
2. Create things you don’t understand.

 

Very warm thank you to Lorenzo Pilla and A Maze for the opportunity!