Stereoscopic Media


This article was updated on 13 Aug 2020, and is filed under Research Provocations.

Keziah Wallis and Miriam Ross Research Provocation: Fourth VR

Throughout the development of Virtual Reality (VR), Indigenous creatives have found ways to access, adapt and innovate VR technology. Our online database provides examples of this work. Building on the use of ‘Fourth Cinema’ to describe Indigenous Cinema, ‘Fourth VR’ is used to capture the rich array of VR work that maintain Indigenous visual sovereignty. Fourth VR spans all the major platforms with projects available via, for example, the Oculus Store, Viveport, Steam, and YouTube. The works also display a variety of genre forms from VR games to non-narrative experimental artworks to cinematic VR experiences. Examples range from Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s seminal work, Inherent Rights, Vision Rights (1991-1993) to Lisa Jackson’s 360 documentary Highway of Tears (2016) to the language revitalisation game Ksiistsikom (2019) commissioned by the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) to Wiremu Grace’s Māori language cinematic VR work Whakakitenga (2020). This database is a snapshot of past and contemporary VR works although there are certainly more in circulation as well as more in production, meaning the picture will only widen in coming years. 

Fourth VR works have been organised into 3 categories: Indigenous Led, Indigenous Partnership and Indigenous Collaboration. Indigenous Led refers to works where the project has been driven by Indigenous creators, frequently meaning that leadership roles such as director and producer are performed by Indigenous practitioners. Indigenous Partnership refers to works where Indigenous practitioners contribute and are extensively involved in various levels of production, for example as producer, writer or designer, even though non-Indigenous practitioners may perform key creative and technical roles. Indigenous Collaboration refers to works where Indigenous practitioners do not normally fulfill substantial creative or technical roles but have participated and contributed to the way their stories are told. This latter category can include extensive consultation and/or input into the final work but can also include scenarios where Indigenous agencies contract non-Indigenous companies to create the work. We recognise that these categories are fluid and heuristic. They are not hierarchical but rather identify the dynamic ways Indigenous communities are engaging with VR worlds. 

Overall this database presents a wide-angle, zoom-lens, picture of the landscape of Indigenous VR works. It offers a clear demonstration of the capacity of Indigenous creatives to produce their own narratives within the VR medium.

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