#1159: “With These Hands” VR Installation Explores Sexual Violence Stories with New Models of Consent for Audience & Production

With These Hands is a VR installation that “shares challenging, complex and under discussed stories of sexual assault and recovery. It explores the role of listening in the recovery of both survivors and those responsible for sexual harm.” It was produced by Tessa Ratuszynska in collaboration with Survivors Leading Essential Education & Change (SLEEC), which is a “survivor-run organization that changes systems, supports survivors and dismantles the roots of male violence.” The primary mode the narrative is delivered is through voice-over narration where you listen to survivors of sexual violence or other members of SLEEC as they share their own experiences. The piece uses hand tracking technologies so that you can embody the hands of speaker as they share their story, whilst also being in a mostly void VR space aside from a small table-top installation. If the audience member puts their hand on the table, then the narrative will pause, which allows the audience to have more agency in how the VR experience is delivered to them. The first of three segments of the VR installation was based upon this article by SLEEC member Naroa Hammerson, which was published on SLEEC’s Disobedient Survivor blog.

I had a chance to catch up Tessa at the IDFA DocLab in Amsterdam where we talked about this VR installation, as well as some of the unique approaches to consent that she’s using that is modeled after the idea that consent should be ongoing and enthusiastic. This type of co-creative strategy was also featured in the recent book MIT Co-Creation Studio book, Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media with Equity and Justice, which I will be covering in the next episode of this series (Voices of VR episode #1160).

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Music: Fatality