Why Belongings VR?
Belongings is a project long in the making. Ever since my brother and I found the box of photos and documents after her death that revealed the secret our mother had kept at least our whole lives, that of her childhood deportation by the Nazis from the Baden region of Germany to an interment camp in France, it has been at the back of my mind. I thought about writing a book about it, or making a film, but neither felt right. I have thought in the language of objects for as long as I can remember. By this I mean that things carry meaning beyond simple function, that they tell nested levels of stories based on where they come from, where and when they were made, who owned them and why, and what they came to mean for that person. In later posts, I'll examine the objects in Belongings through the lens of the stories they tell to, for, and about me.
My mother had a strong attachment to objects too. She acquired lots of them but also made them, hundreds of them, over the course of her life. Maybe I inherited my feelings about things from her. Probably. And maybe that's why I chose to make a career of telling stories by choosing and arranging things. It felt like the most natural path, so natural I never thought about or questioned it until I had already been doing it for years. I started out creating theater props. There are so few objects in a play or musical that each one carries a world of meaning. They are designed with great care. After a number of years doing that, I moved on to decorating sets for films and television shows. In contrast to the relative minimalism of theater, a set is an explosion of objects! So many things, all chosen to advance the story.
My introduction to Virtual Reality as a medium for storytelling happened in 2016 at the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Arcade. I had dismissed VR as something to do with gaming, something for kids, something not for me. At Tribeca, I experienced VR for the first time and got really excited about its potential. That's when the idea of telling my story in this way using the language I know started to take shape. I'm so happy to be making it happen.