Olivia McGilchrist – ISLAND, a VR research-creation project / in progress

5 à 7
January 23, 2020 at 5:00–7:00pm
Hybrid: Online and In-Person

Feminist Media Studio, CJ Building, Room 2.130
Concordia University 7141 Sherbrooke W Montreal (Qc)

The following questions will guide my presentation, as I continue to question the medium: which pedagogical terms of engagement in VR are established through an artist’s presentation? Which decolonial questions and proposals are necessary to situate / navigate the real and virtual body’s identity and environment? I approach VR as a submersive masking device within an installation. I am concerned with the tension occurring between the two modes of physical presence when one user is wearing a VR headset and another user is not.

ISLAND aims to explore the potential of experimental VR in the facilitation of non-linear and fragmented story arcs more representative of a decentralized and rhizomatic model of future human interaction within immersive environments. Islands are metaphors for a condensed physical space in which we are aware of the edges of our living environment. By transposing this notion to a VR – video installation, we invite participants to navigate through an archipelago of possible encounters with filmed 360 performances and deconstructed sounds, which inhabit these imaginary islands. Submerged in virtual reality, ISLAND’s embodied experience becomes a tool to decipher experimental practices within an immersive installation context.

More Info


Olivia McGilchrist is a multi-media artist and educator engaged in questions about identity. She has exhibited Virtual Reality (VR), film-based and photographic art works in Canada, Brazil, the U.S.A.; across the Caribbean and several European countries. Her Individualized (INDI) PhD research-creation project investigates how VR and video installation offer new experiences of embodiment within feminist frameworks. Growing up between Jamaica, the UK and France as a visibly white French-Jamaican, she became interested in masking as a subversive practice in the Jamaican carnival ‘Jonkonnu’. Since 2015, this has led her to explore the potential of VR within multimedia installations, where the physicality of the head-mounted display became an inward-looking mask that isolates the viewer from her context, as opposed to acting as a mask which either hides or transforms her identity from others.

Accessibility Information:
The Feminist Media Studio is located on the second floor of the Communications and Journalism (CJ) building on the Loyola Campus which can be accessed via an outdoor staircase or ramped entrance. The second floor can then be reached by indoor stairs or elevator. The lab door opens outward into a hallway with a key card entry (restricted to active FMS members).

Inside the lab there is a lounge area with low seating, a narrow kitchenette that may be difficult to navigate with a wheelchair or walker, a large conference room with sliding barn doors, moveable tables and chair seating, the technician’s office which requires key-access, and a production studio which requires key access and features a small sound booth, with a raised floor.