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Exploring intimacy and virtual reality – Kazimir Bielecki and Lennie Varvarides

Exploring intimacy and virtual reality, with Kazimir Bielecki and Lennie Varvarides, on the Immersive Wire podcast

Kazimir Bielecki and Lennie Varvarides are from DYSPLA, a neurodivergent, Tottenham based studio lead by the award-winning disabled artists. Supported by the Arts Council England, DYSPLA produces the work of neurodivergent storymakers.

We explore the philosophy of virtual reality, particularly themes such as the sense of touch, experiences, and intimacy.

Listen to the episode:

Summary of the podcast episode:

What kind of projects do you both work on in virtual and augmented reality?

We produce the work of neurodivergent story makers. So we look into the creative advantage of neuro divergence, meaning people who are dyslexic, tADHD, autistic people who think differently from the subjective idea of normal and the like. In terms of immersive in the past year, we’ve been producing we’ve produced two 360 films.

What are your thoughts on VR and intimacy?

VR isn’t enough. I don’t think you can ever create a situation where VR or gaming can ever trump human contact, because I feel like I always need it. I just can’t imagine how we could live in a world where it’s enough to just communicate over the internet. It terrifies me that potentially we are getting ready for that as the next as the next kind of human evolution where you no longer need human interaction. That’s terrifying.

What are your thoughts on haptic sensations, like touch?

I think it’s amazing. The haptics can recreate the feeling you have, be it in VR or asleep.

What are your thoughts on meeting in virtual reality?

Few things can compare to real-life. Meeting together is a powerful sensation. But maybe people are physically disabled, or maybe they’ve got childcare issues, or maybe they can’t afford it. So in a way, being online is more inclusive, isn’t it?

If they were able to open it up and make things more digital so that you can vote online, then you’d be making a really clear statement that you want all of your membership, all of your audience to be engaging in what you’re doing, whether it’s politics or art, by having it online. The experience is better in the room, but the engagement is better if you can have it in addition on a digital platform.

Can virtual reality humanize events?

What elements do we need to humanize something? Let’s say you are playing Grand Theft Auto, and you run over a pedestrian because it’s fun. You see them as a computer. In real life, we wouldn’t run over a person purely because it’s mean and not very nice. Based on this, what senses are necessary to humanize a character?

We can see on Skype and Zoom, and we can see and hear people. Plus, we also know that that person on the other side is real. We have a perception of the person. Same with a normal flat screen film; you understand the character through various methods of storytelling of narrative development.

One answer is touch. It is a significant piece of human interaction, as it humanizes communications. You start to really care about the story and the interactions, and you go from there to sort everything out. You don’t really care about a story unless you’re physically there physically smelling it and feeling it.