Through the Wardrobe was an augmented reality experience by Rob Eagle about gender identity that took place in a pop-up shop in the hallways of Amsterdam’s Central Station. The IDFA DocLab had three storefronts in Central Station this year during their festival to show a couple of 360 video programs, an interactive narrative experiences, and Eagle’s experience that appeared to be a clothes store on a quick glance. But each of all of the clothes in the store were associated with four different people with gender fluid identities. You pick a piece a clothing to try on, and then you go into the back of the store for a spatialized AR experience on the HoloLens 1 that dives into the gender identity journeys for each person through five different chapters that were anchored to furniture in this mock bedroom.
I had a chance to talk to Eagle about his experiential design process, and why he decided to move away from virtual reality and focus more on augmented reality experiences so that he could focus on his actual body and experiences that allow you to play with gender identity and gender expression. It definitely provided me with a safe context for me to experiment with my own gender expression, and Eagle talks about the power of mixed reality experiences to create a magic circle as well as a “hybrid space” that’s talked about by theorists like Edward W. Soja and Peter Sloterdijk in being able to blur the digital and the real in order to create a “third space” that goes beyond the affordances of each modality. So there are many parallels for how mixed reality is providing us embodied metaphors for what it means to go beyond the binaries of the virtual and the real.
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