(Prosthetic devices, VR videogame and workshops)
Co-created by Santiago Arcila
Surrounding Worlds is a multimedia project that involves a VR video game with AI and various prostheses. The project proposes an intersection between Art, Philosophy and Biology. The project orbits around ecological and political concerns, and explores different posibilites of coexistence with beings as diverse as animals and the so-called technical objects (machines).
The project started with the Umwelt concept, translated as the surrounding world by the zoologist Jacob Von Uexkull, who had a musical idea of nature- as a symphony of bubbles that surrounded animals and determined their ecological relationships. These bubbles contained everything that is significant to the animal. Umwelt goes against anthropocentrism and allows the animal to be thought of as an agent that possesses a world and not as a passive machine of reactions. Following Viveiros de Castro, we find in Amerindian cultures a way of seeing animals very close to the Umwelt: for Amerindians animals are also agents, indispensable for the cosmogonic organization of their community: skins, fangs and canes are technological prostheses that complement the human body and create bridges of communication with invisible dimensions, by extending the mind to other realms, acting as enablers of an inter-umwelt communication.
Our prostheses (this project was coproduced by Atractor Studio) are rooted in this context and are the retroactive control of a video game about the Golden Warbler bird Umwelt. The prosthesis were manufactured from a biological study and a real migration history in 2014. The birds faced adverse conditions due to global warming that generated storms on the coasts of Florida (their final destination). The birds had to alter their migratory routes, forced to explore an alternative way through Mexico and Central America and finally arriving to Colombia: it allows us to think about the complexity of human migration, its causes and effects. (see The Migrants for more information about the video game).
Surrounding worlds was also an educational project that took place in Bogotá Colombia, as an open laboratory for kids whom created proshesis based on animals that inhabit the city. The pieces were 3d printed and presented on an open exhibition the 12th of December of 2018 in Plataforma - Bogotá. This project was commisioned by the CREA program of Idartes - part of the city hall of Bogotá, with the support of Plataforma and the strategic division of art and technology of Idartes.
Special thanks to: Asher Remy-Toledo, Hyphen Hub