Winner best creative technology award – IDFA DocLab competition / Immersive non-fiction 2021.

Symbiosis is selected for SXSW in Austin Texas and will be shown on March 11-14 2023 as part of the XR Experience Spotlight section.

Symbiosis is a performative, multiuser and multisensory VR installation in which the human body will be redesigned. It allows every participant to embody a post-human or even nonhuman reality: a completely symbiotic human-animal or human-technologic relationship. Dutch experience design collective POLYMORF investigates in a speculative way how a more symbiotic exchange of genetic, cultural and technological traits between people and other present or future living entities can increase or change the agency of all. How will such affect future coexistence, legal rights and relationships between humans and all other living entities on a physical, emotional and spiritual level?

Symbiosis uses VR as a theatrical and philosophical tool to design an embodied multi-sensory experience. Within Symbiosis, the visitor is both spectator and performer. The installation consists of a performative space that offers a multi-user VR experience. Each experience is describing a specific symbiotic human-animal or human-technologic relationship. By choosing one of the stories, the visitor selects a character and role in the overall story world. All participants play a different symbiotic role in each other’s individual lives and all characters come together at the end of the experience to join in a shared food experience. Within the performance, the physical body of the visitor is used as a muscle to control his/her speculative virtual body. Each experience will come with a uniquely designed soft robotic wearable enabling various haptic bodily interactions manipulations and interactions.

The individual VR experiences build towards a collective eating ritual, sharing virtual and real foods, and the virtual body as food. For this, a series of specially designed snacks will infuse the virtual food with unexpected taste sensations.The all-vegetarian snacks are designed by Dutch Michelin-starred restaurant Karpendonkse Hoeve master chefs. Symbiosis is inspired by Donna Haraway’s book Staying With The Trouble and The Camille Stories: Children of Compost making physically tangible posthuman body architectures within a post humanistic social context, questioning current Humanistic, Anthropocentric and Liberal beliefs.

Production details:
Symbiosis is designed and produced by Polymorf in collaboration with Studio Biarritz.

Concept, scenario and art direction: Marcel van Brakel
Directed by: Marcel van Brakel and Mark Meeuwenoord
Language: English
Country: The Netherlands
Status: Released in 2021
Running time: 6×20 minutes (45 minutes on & off boarding included).

A performative, multiuser and multisensory VR installation

Symbiosis was shown in November 2021 in Eye Film Museum during IDFA DocLab, at the Holland Festival in A’dam – June 2022 and The Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht – September 2022. Symbiosis premiered in November 2022 in the USA, at PAMCUT – The Portland Art Museum: center for an untold Tomorrow and was sold out immediately for a period of 3 months. This showcase was made possible thanks to the support of Nike, HTC Vive and the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.

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