#1105: Tribeca XR: Embodiment Experiments in a Surrealist, Speculative, Feminist Eco-Fiction on Plastics Permeating the Body in “Plastisapians”

First-time VR artists Miri Chekhanovich & Édith Jorisch in collaboration with Dpt. and “>The NFB created some unique embodiment experiments within Plastisapians as they explored speculative futures about plastic permeating and changing our bodies. Inspired by feminist author Heather Davis’ essay on “Toxic Progeny: The Plastisphere and Other Queer Futures”, Chekhanovich & Jorisch take the concept of plastics entering and changing hormones in our bodies to the speculative extreme by having you embody animals and altered humans who evolve into having more of a fluid experience of their body. They use irony and playful humor to avoid an overly-moralizing tone in part inspired by feminist scholar
Donna Haraway’s idea of Staying with the Trouble to explore experimental futures while accepting the reality of the current situation. We talk about each of their journeys into VR from the realms of visual art and filmmaking, and explore how the use of embodiment is opening up new avenues for feminist eco-fictions and speculative futures aimed to have us reflect on the present moment.


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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast, a podcast that's looking at the structures and forms of immersive storytelling, but also the future of spatial computing. If you enjoy the podcast, please do consider supporting it at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So in today's episode I'm going to be continuing on in my series of the different projects of the Tribeca Immersive. This piece is called Plastisapiens, which is from the National Film Board and a couple of new VR creators and artists inspired by Toxic Progeny, The Plastisphere, and Other Queer Futures by Heather Davis. It's looking at the permeability of how plastics are getting more and more into our bodies. Our bodies are interpreting it as these xenoestrogens. Estrogens that's not quite estrogen in that it's changing the chemical makeup. What's that mean and how it's impacting us? But in the long, speculative future, kind of an ironic take of how that's going to change our embodiment. It's doing a lot of really interesting experiments of using the medium of VR to play with these different concepts of permeability and boundaries between ourself and the world around us, but also our embodiment in that context and using embodiment as the main vehicle to be able to tell the story of the impact of plastics on our body. So that's what we're covering on today's episode, although it's a VR podcast. So this interview with Miri and Edith happened on Saturday, June 11th, 2022 at the Tropic Immersive in New York City, New York. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:01:40.532] Miri Chekhanovich: My name is Myri, and I'm a visual artist. It's my first VR project, so the realm of VR is really new to me, and the first work was Plasticapians.

[00:01:52.479] Edith Jorisch: My name is Edith Jarisch. I'm a film director of documentary and fiction, and this is also my first VR piece, an animated piece. And Myri and I, it's our first collaboration. Yeah.

[00:02:07.337] Kent Bye: Maybe could each give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into doing VR work.

[00:02:12.879] Miri Chekhanovich: Sure. So as a visual artist, I'm really interested in materials and the materials that make our world. And the idea to work in VR came about due to the idea that materials really transform our biology. And so VR is a really amazing medium to tell a story in a way that you really sense and feel in your body a transformation. And you go through a journey rather than seeing a film which you kind of sit passively and observe. It's a way to really interact with the subject. I usually work with kind of dystopian ideas. I like to use humor and irony in science fiction, thinking about future in an exaggerated way.

[00:03:04.321] Edith Jorisch: And as a script writer, I was very curious to learn more about new ways of telling stories. So that's what brought me to VR. And Myriam and I, we discovered that we had a lot of affinities in teams that we explore and aesthetic and the forms we love and inspire us. And a lot of the teams I board, I use in my work is identity and mutation and migration. So it made a lot of sense for us to work on this Plasticapiens, which is the story of a speculative piece where we imagine the future of humanity in a world where plastic is changing our DNA. So it was, yeah, interesting for us. I think if we do a new VR piece, we're going to be more able to understand the technology and where it is now, because it's still new, and maybe we're going to be able to play with these leaks and lags, and I think, yeah.

[00:04:08.049] Kent Bye: Yeah, I noticed that there was like a feminist theorist that was cited, and I don't know if there was an essay that coined the phrase of Placidstapien. Maybe you could give a bit more context of how that came about.

[00:04:17.780] Miri Chekhanovich: Yes, sure. The writer is called Heather Davis and I don't remember the exact name of the article. It's something like toxic progeny, the queer future of plastic. And actually I met Heather Davis in New York four years ago. in a context of thinking about the future of museums and museology and she gave a talk about how plastic is making our bodies queer in a biological way and also showed us different kind of plastics that exist and told us about xenoestrogens. A lot of the things that are in the VR piece are very heavily inspired by her research and her take on, OK, what does it mean in terms of consciousness and not just our biology, but given also our queer times and queering our genders and queering of a lot of aspects of life that also after COVID, everything becomes a bit more shaky and less certain. Yeah. And also we're really inspired by Donna Haraway as well, which is a feminist writer. And the idea of talking about crisis and trouble from a feminist perspective, to first start from being with the trouble. Plastics are here, there's no way to kind of go back. Toxicity due to plastics is here. But at the same time we are adaptable creatures and so how do we adapt? So it's a way of just kind of first, yeah, if I can quote Donna Haraway is really staying with the trouble as a methodology, as a way of being. That's really inspired the work.

[00:06:05.820] Edith Jorisch: Yeah, I think our first idea was that we are what we eat and outside our body and inside our body there's skin separating us but it's like transparent because we are permeable and plastic is penetrating us through the food we eat, the creams we put on and it's everywhere. So we started with this idea and then it was a lot of fun to imagine, okay, so If there is so much plastic in us because of these hormones, these feminine hormones that our body recognizes as estrogen, that if we're not able to reproduce anymore, then what do we do and how can we rethink the way we treat nature and other species? And how can we mother each other? a different way. So that's kind of the idea of the last chapter, because the VR piece is divided in three chapters, and the last one is the plastosphere, which is a world where you share with other plasticapians that are creatures adapted to plastic, that can digest plastic, and that there is no hierarchy between the genres and the species. So the piece is really like colorful and inspired by plastic and how plastic is such a fantastic material because it's malleable. There's a reason why it's everywhere. You can do anything with this. So we wanted to play a little bit with this kind of mixed feeling like you're attracted to this. It's like kind of like a LSD trip. But then you understand that you are slowly becoming more plastic than human. So what was interesting also with the VR technology is that it was a way for us to transcend our bodies because you have, for example, your hands in the beginning, they're rocks. Then you go back in time and learn the origin of plastic and humanity that is the same and it's underwater. and so you have tentacles and then your tentacles transform to bones and at the end your hands are like kind of like spider-man hands like very flexible they're plastic yeah and Also, there's one chapter where it's a cave with stalactite and rain and the rain slowly transformed to plastic rain and when it touches your skin, it penetrates your body and you're being told by a voice, a meditative voice, that's telling you kind of like meditative apps to like calm down, it's okay, but plastic is here and it's getting into your body and you're So I think that's what was interesting, the way we understand now what VR can do, create empathy and embody.

[00:08:57.628] Kent Bye: Yeah, so there's a lot of the themes that I want to impact but I think the embodied aspect that you just brought up I want to leverage on that a little bit because I feel like one of the key takeaways I have from this piece was how interesting it was to embody these different types of embodiment. Part of the tone of this piece is looking into the future and it's a speculative future in a way that it's hard for me to know whether or not some of these ways of which the plastic is coming into our body and changing the hormones, whether or not that is seen as a metaphor through the lens of the gendered identity blurring and blending of the spectrum rather than sort of the binary, so like rather than the fixed differentiation that it's more of a continuum that is interrelated in a different way, or if it's more of a a literal aspect of like this is the future that we're actually living into given that. So it's hard for me to know whether or not this is a metaphor or whether or not this is sort of like an actual reality. And the degree to which something like Plastisapien is kind of a play on some of the feminist theory of gender identity and gender politics and kind of bringing that into the physical biological reality. And so as I'm watching the piece, that's sort of what I'm not knowing where to orient. It's a provocation that I don't know whether or not it's kind of like a lighthearted joke or if it's an actual future that we're living into.

[00:10:09.867] Miri Chekhanovich: Yeah, I would say we don't know the answers, right? We use speculation and irony and kind of exaggeration to bring the participant to ask these questions and wander upon it. And then you see in Chapter 3, it's quite abstract, right? There's not really a plastisapien, like you're not sure what it is, really. It's just embodied through your hands, which I would say, yeah, it's the easiest way to feel the embodiment in VR. I think the piece really invites these questions and we don't know how this transformation of hormones And eventually, what, are we completely eternal? This is kind of an exaggeration, a wink. I would not say a joke, but if plastic is here forever, then maybe we are here forever. And at the same time, maybe we are the last. Plastisapiens will be the last species. of humankind, like the last humans on earth, because they were no longer able to reproduce sexually. And so the idea is that also, I think we gave you a little sibling at the end. So the idea was, OK, well, if we're no longer able to reproduce sexually as humans, our progeny are viruses, bacteria, different types of fungi that developed also in the plastic, toxic environments. So in that sense, there's blurring of like separation between species all together. Yeah.

[00:11:45.262] Kent Bye: And from a perspective of writing, it's kind of like a tone you're trying to hit where you want to not be too extreme, but also kind of have that irony. I'd love to hear about your process of trying to find that right mixture of tone and irony and everything.

[00:12:01.160] Edith Jorisch: Yeah, so I think we talk about plastic a lot. We all know like plastic is everywhere. Oceans are saturated with it. And we really didn't want to have this moralizing tone because we thought it was a better way to engage a discussion to not be moralizing. So that's why it's a bit like funny and playful. But I don't know. Do you have anything to answer?

[00:12:28.360] Miri Chekhanovich: There were a lot of edits in the text, I would say, to find how much to also leave for the experience. Especially in VR, there must be a balance between what you hear, the instruction part of breathe in, breathe out, move your tongue up your palate, take it back down. All of these more instructional methods that bring you to sense plastic and your own transformation rather than this like telling you facts all the time so but we wanted those facts to be a part of the experience. We were also really inspired by texts that appeared when plastic was just created or synthesized for us so there's a lot of irony we used there where we kind of use the same fascinated language with this material. It's so wonderful, malleable, ever-changing, all of these kind of descriptions of it. Yeah, it's really different than telling a narrative story, I would say.

[00:13:32.569] Edith Jorisch: I just wanted to add that one film that inspired us is a film by Alain René called Polystyrene. And it's this kind of like, odd to plastic. And you start with a tupperware, you go back to the petrol industry. And I think it was made in the 60s. And yeah, we were really inspired by this odd to plastic, like at the end, there is like a few plastic molecules that are all singing and talking to you together and telling you how plastic is wonderful, malleable. Yeah.

[00:14:12.951] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think both the breathing, there's another experience that I've experienced before where you move your hands and you have the pulsing of the breath because it's difficult to track your actual in-breath and so to move your hands to create this undulating feeling of as you're breathing in, the world is kind of vibrating around you and I thought that is a really effective way of building a resonance with you, and also connection as you as an individual to the world around you. But also the different types of tentacles and the hands interactions, you mentioned that you feel like the best expression of embodiment is the hands. And I felt that you were able to create some really interesting experiences with the tentacles. And what were you doing on the back end to make it feel like I don't know if there was a delay or if there was most like a fluid dynamics or haptics that were in there that were giving me an extra feeling of having like my hands were actually tentacles and it was just a lot of fun to kind of play around with that.

[00:15:05.569] Edith Jorisch: Yeah, this I think you have to ask our DPT studio because it's our story, our ideas, our concept, but we are not the ones like programming it. So there was a lot of back and forth like, okay, so this is our 50 page mood boards we want the hair grass to look like this, but then they were the genius behind the operation But yes, I don't know how they did but the tentacles it's like so fluid how it's they're moving It was I would just mention that to collaborate like this through media like bringing us as artists and and writers and filmmakers and then like to a medium like VR and

[00:15:51.412] Miri Chekhanovich: It was so generative because, yeah, how do we translate? Like, we knew we wanted ourselves to be transformed into this octopus being, but then, like, how do you really make it in VR? And that was just incredible to work with people who can make this idea into an embodied form.

[00:16:13.053] Edith Jorisch: Yeah, also one thing we really wanted is the participants have an impact on the environment and vice versa. But how do we do this in VR? So they were a lot of help, DPT Studio. So with your hands, you're able to move. So the beginning of the piece, it's like a cave and the ground is like skin with hair. And when you move your hands, it moves and you breathe, it moves the floor, the ground. And then at the end, also when you continue this movement of hand, it changes the color of the plastosphere. And when you touch some creatures, there's some excroissance. They reproduce, like there's some growth. So these were some ideas that we wanted to explore in VR that we couldn't have done in some flatty version.

[00:17:07.995] Kent Bye: Yeah, I don't know has anyone brought up the reference to you of everywhere anything all at once yet in terms of the hands No? Oh, okay. So it's a multiverse film where they have one of the multiverses have characters that have hands that basically don't have bones in them. They basically look exactly the same as the hands at the end. So anyway, there's sort of like a independent kind of exploration of that as a concept, but definitely it's an amazing film, but just I guess no one's brought it up yet, but there's some overlap there between another film that's kind of depicting in cinema whole character scenes that have hands that have like really super long fingers. So anyway.

[00:17:44.152] Miri Chekhanovich: I don't know if it's relevant, but we met through an initiative of the National Film Board of Canada in Israel and we went to see a lot of people in the VR, XR industry and we met someone called Daniel Landau. who researches really embodiment in VR and it was incredible to see this project and it really touched me literally because it was touching my hands as I was in the virtual world and slowly my hands turned into old ladies hands and I really felt my skin was less elastic. You know, it took 10 minutes and he managed to really make me feel that like physically. That was like a key moment for us to understand that what is possible with this medium is like, wow, okay, you can actually feel and like you say, the tentacles really made you feel like you have them. I think that's really something unique about this medium that through the movement and this elasticity and if you really go with it and let yourself go into it, you can really have fun and become something else for a little bit.

[00:18:58.597] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's the rubber hand illusion is they would have someone's hand that they would have a rubber hand version but then their actual hand would be occluded on the side and they would be simultaneously touching both and then so you have this kind of identification of that being your actual body and then being able to then take a knife and then stab it and then you kind of have a reaction and so Mel Slater's then expanded that into the virtual body ownership illusion meaning that you can have different ways in which you start to identify with your body And I think the haptics that are happening within the controller, as well as as you're moving it around, you see the visual feedback and you kind of like have this identification of that. So I think, yeah, this is a piece is able to use embodiment and your body to not only tell the story thematically, but also give this visceral experience for people. And so I'm curious to kind of hear as you were orienting and thinking about the body, like, what do you think the body and embodiment into this media is giving you that's new and different that you wouldn't be able to tell the story in other media?

[00:19:59.778] Miri Chekhanovich: Yes, I mean so much. Edith talked about the permeability of the body and that was really a key starting point for us. We are what we eat, we are eating plastic, we are becoming plasticapians. Okay, and now what? How do we translate it through the media? So I think the breath started from that idea. We can't really feed people throughout the experience in this context maybe, but we thought, okay, breath is something we're taking in and we're taking out. So that's why we use the breath as a technique to embody that idea that what is outside of us is in us and vice versa. Yeah, there are some moments that when you exhale, you see those little particles coming out of what your mouth is. Also, when you grab the fruit in chapter one, your hand becomes tainted with the same color. Yeah, I mean, how could we do it in a different medium? I don't know. Obviously, of course, the tentacles and this idea of fluidity. I think also just the simple fact that it's in 360, that the environment includes your body in such a way, you have some agency and simply where you're looking, where is your focus and where is your attention? Yeah.

[00:21:26.300] Edith Jorisch: Also we're telling a story where we go back in time in 1907 when the plastic was invented and then we go back into the present and then in the future and we move in space with time so we go down into the water and then our body is being elevated up in the sky in the future. So that's also something we could not have done with not a VR.

[00:21:55.604] Kent Bye: Here at Tribeca Film Festival, when I saw that you offered me some plastic caviar and I opted to not eat it just because I didn't know what it was going to do to my body. It's a piece about plastic and so I'm like already kind of inherently skeptical, but maybe you could talk a bit about what you're offering here for people going through this experience and what the backstory of that is.

[00:22:15.349] Miri Chekhanovich: Sure. So in my visual art practice, I use biodegradable plastics, agar-agar, which is an algae powder, and it's edible, or gelatin. So a lot of the elements in the installation are made with gelatin. And so the plastic caviar was also going back to our really original motivation, is to make people Eat something and then throughout the experience realize that we are eating plastic, but this was quite literal so We for the first two days of the festival. We offered people some plastic caviar The ingredients included agar agar and tea infusion. So there was hibiscus and turmeric just to give it some little color It's vegan. It's gluten-free. It really feels like you're eating some kind of jello plastic and throughout chapter one when you're invited to put your tongue up your palate and feel the microplastics residue then we wanted the participant to remember the act of eating.

[00:23:22.520] Edith Jorisch: And actually, it worked. We were told by some participants that there was still some plastic caviar on their palate. And then the voice tells you, like, touch your palate. It's plastic. You're made out of plastic. So that was kind of the idea. Yeah, we wanted the experience to be multi-sensorial, so that's why the installation also we made here. You can touch the plastic puddles and yeah, the mouth, the eating of plastic was something we wanted to add in the beginning of the project. Actually, our first idea was that you would like eat the device and the device brings you into your body and

[00:24:03.863] Miri Chekhanovich: But then, yeah, adjust to the video.

[00:24:08.585] Kent Bye: Yeah, I'd love to hear a little bit more context of this installation because it's pretty vast and epic. It looks like a cave-like entity with what are kind of like pantyhose-like material, but I'm sure it's all made out of plastics or maybe you could just kind of explain these things that are hanging down. They kind of feel like stalactites with swinging lights and yeah, it just creates a whole mood As I was in the experience, I was bumping up against one of it. So I was feeling some of that as I was trying to reach one of the fruit. It was in the point where I was being obstructed by the installation. But overall, it's kind of a nice tone as I'm walking into this, but maybe could give a bit more context of the process and designing it if there's any other story behind it.

[00:24:50.087] Miri Chekhanovich: Sure, we both worked with Frédéric Bessin-Marie, who designed this installation. And our idea was really inspired by the actual VR piece, thinking with, OK, what is inside is also outside. Like, we're not sure if we're inside a body or outside a body. Is it like a cocoon, or is it inside an organ? Is it a cave, like you said? It's inspired really visually by Chapter One, where we're in this kind of inside-outside cave, and the stalactites, the elements that are hanging from the ceiling, are like textile objects dipped in bioplastic, so again using water-soluble, biodegradable plastics that I cook in my studio. So a lot of the motivation obviously was like, okay, if we're talking about plastic toxicity and pollution, and we wanted the installation using as less plastic as possible. And it's true, all of the fabric is obviously plastic, you know, this kind of stocking material. But yeah, all the other elements are kind of produced plastic.

[00:26:04.033] Edith Jorisch: It's actually just really hard. We didn't want to use plastic but we had three weeks to do this and it was just a realization that it's just really hard not to use plastic. So yeah, the goal was not to use plastic but then time flew and we kind of had no choice but a lot of the materials are reused. Yeah, exactly. And also under the stalactites, the purple bioplastic is leaking and creating some kind of puddles that looks a bit like petrol, but is bioplastic. And from these plastic puddles, you can see some growth starting. So there's some flowers, like new life form is emerging from this new plastic life.

[00:26:54.914] Kent Bye: What do you hope that people take away from this experience and how do you see it as furthering the conversation around this as an issue?

[00:27:04.022] Miri Chekhanovich: For me, I would love that each of us looks at our own standing and from where we're at, what can we do. As a creator, I wanted to bring this issue to a conversation space, but from a feminist perspective, from a perspective that is not like seeking solutions right now in this very urgent and scary tone. But rather, yeah, okay, well, this is here. We know we are adaptable beings and we're very intelligent and all of the solutions, kind of two problems are already here. It's just about how we make it into regulations and work together from each of us, where we're at. Yeah, that's what I would hope to, and I hope to create more conversations like this one. I guess to bring the fear of the future into the conversation too, because we need to find solutions, but also it's okay to be afraid of this future and to acknowledge it and recognize it and talk about it, make art about it and see where that leads us as societies.

[00:28:18.923] Edith Jorisch: I think we don't have answers to a lot of questions and this uncertainty about the future is something we treated and we want to not reduce eco-anxiety because we don't have the answer but just If we are a bit more relaxed, we can have conversations that are more thought of. A lot of people who did the experience so far, at the end they're horrified, but also fascinated. They all said that they've learned things they didn't know. And at the end, they're touched. So that's what's important for me, because they're going to talk about it and we're opening a bigger conversation. And that's the only way that we can change like individually and collectively.

[00:29:12.962] Kent Bye: Yeah, one of the things that I guess I want to just help elaborate on and clarify a little bit is that you're talking about how the plastics are changing different aspects of our hormones and potentially leading to different aspects of infertility. And so it's covered in the piece a little bit as you explain that, but maybe just here you can kind of recap what the idea is that as the plastics are in our bodies, how is that changing both our hormones and our ability to reproduce?

[00:29:36.429] Miri Chekhanovich: So yeah, it's really about the xenoestrogen so like it comes from the Greek like foreign the word xeno and so the body recognizes these molecules as estrogen I'm gonna try to avoid saying like feminine hormone or masculine hormones because this is also very unsettled subject in the science world, because we mostly studied male bodies in terms of hormones. But yeah, basically the cause of having more and more xenoestrogens in our bodies means that our bodies do not produce estrogens naturally, because it seems like we have enough. So that's why in bodies that have uteruses and these kind of organs, if we don't have enough estrogen, then we cannot have babies. It's biologically becoming a problem. In other bodies, excess of estrogen can create different malformations, like enlarged breasts and things like that, lower sperm counts, things like that. Infertility or inability to sexually reproduce in the same way.

[00:30:50.942] Edith Jorisch: It's not really clear exactly yet what the effects are going to be, but recently some new scientists discovered that there is now plastic in our blood, in human blood and in women's placenta. So that's really frightening.

[00:31:10.915] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, certainly a lot to think about and it's a poetic take and wrapping it in an entertaining and ironic way and also just a fun embodiment. So, yeah, I'm glad to have experienced it here and are there plans for it to be made available for people to see as well? Or do you have any plans for what comes next with this project?

[00:31:28.553] Miri Chekhanovich: I'm sure it's going to be available on Oculus stores. I don't know when. And it's going to travel, I hope, in different festivals. We're both from Montreal, so I think the next destination will be Montreal. Nothing is official yet.

[00:31:46.639] Edith Jorisch: But eventually it will end up on the Quest.

[00:31:49.640] Kent Bye: Yeah, I know there's the official store, and then App Lab, and SideQuest. So I own one of those. I'm sure it'll be made available. So great. And finally, what do you each think is the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive storytelling? And what am I able to enable?

[00:32:06.879] Miri Chekhanovich: I mean, it's really exciting for me. It's my first exploration with the medium. And now after doing Plastisapiens, I feel like I learned a lot of the possibilities. And sometimes to learn more about possibilities kind of is almost like knowing less because it's like, whoa, a lot is possible. I would say I'm very curious just being in this festival and looking out from as a observer on other people doing VR, like having the headset on and me just being their witness. I think there's a really interesting aspect of generosity and care and I personally would like to maybe explore this choreography that happens when someone is immersed in a world and well-being in the world and this kind of care that needs to happen, you know, especially if experiences are multi-user experiences and you move in spaces so there must be people like caring and guiding and making sure you're not stumbling and hitting walls. So for me there's something in the future there in terms of care. I think embodiment, healing questions, taking us places that otherwise we were not really able to access, but we maybe need to access to evolve as a species.

[00:33:37.578] Edith Jorisch: Wow. Hmm. I think you gave good answers. I think VR gives a great opportunity to connect differently with others. For me, as a storyteller, it's really interesting to change the way I think of the audience participating in the story. and because of that the possibilities are infinite. I think there are some stories that must be told in VR and others in other mediums and I'm still exploring which one and I'm not sure exactly how. see this medium there is like a lot of possibilities but also it's still a new medium and the technology and the accessibility particularly is sometimes a bit constraining. But I'm really excited to be part of this hub and new discussion and yeah so that's the most exciting and interesting part for me.

[00:34:56.270] Miri Chekhanovich: If I can add something that it's important for me not to fall into the gimmicky aspect of VR, yeah, it's cool, it's exciting, it's new, you know, it's a lot of things, but if we are making work in this medium, it has to be because it's essential to this medium and not just because it's cool, you know, because, yeah, it's a powerful tool.

[00:35:23.017] Kent Bye: Well, thank you so much for both for joining me here on the podcast and creating the Plasticapians. And yeah, thanks a lot.

[00:35:29.150] Miri Chekhanovich: Thank you so much. Thank you.

[00:35:32.332] Kent Bye: So that was Miriam Ciechanowicz. She's a visual artist interested in materials and the materials that make up our world, as well as Edith Joyash, a film director of documentary and fiction. So, a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, well, the ideas of taking these feminist authors from Heather Davis of The Toxic Progeny, The Placesphere, and Other Queer Futures as well as Donna Haraway's ideas of staying with the trouble. So not trying to fix or change or have any agenda as to what should happen, but to just notice what's happening and just try to be with what's happening. But also using the tone of this irony of this speculative future and go out way into the far future and to look at what's happening now and if some of these things, if they continue to happen, then what's the logical extreme of where this could go? moving from binary ways of thinking to the spectrum and seeing how those metaphors of the spectrum of gender starts to have the interactions with the world with plastics as they get into our body and the estrogens and change our chemical makeup and impact our fertility, then in some ways it's changing the biological makeup and potentially coming up with what Heather Davis calls this togic progeny, the plastic sphere, and other queer futures. So an eco fiction place that's taking all this different aspects and investigating the materials impact on the body. And the art style in this piece is somewhat simple and minimalist in a lot of ways. But the thing that was really striking to me is the different ways that they're playing with embodiment. So having like tentacles as hands or having these If you've seen the movie of everything everywhere all at once, there's some scenes that have like hands that are extended. So just thinking about the ways in which our body continues to morph and evolve with its permeability, with the different stuff that we're creating. And yeah, just to explore those aspects of embodiment and to give people that embodied experience of sort of modulation and evolution of the body over time. So yeah, lots of different interesting experiments with embodiment and trying to use that, have other entryways into talking about some of these different topics without having an overly moralizing tone and taking a lot of the different insights from Donna Haraway's ideas of staying with the trouble. So that's all I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a, this is a supported podcast, and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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