We were thrilled to be awarded the 2017 Best Paper Award at the EVA London (Electronic Visualization and the Arts) Conference, for our paper:
Virtual Transcendance: An interactive immersive media installation of Sufi Dhikr Ritual
Aynur Kadir, Kate Hennessy, Steve DiPaola, and Ozge Yalcin
“Virtual Sama” is an interactive multimedia installation that connects computationally abstracted ethnographic documentation of a Sufi Dhikr ritual with viewers through an artistic artificial intelligence (AI) abstraction process and interactive rhythmic full body movement. In this paper, we describe how the installation is designed to elicit reflection on the implications of transforming intangible heritage into digital heritage through digital documentation and storage, and to encourage exploration of questions around privacy and safeguarding of sensitive cultural practices. Against the context of detailed fieldwork with Uyghur Sufi practitioners in Xinjiang, China, we explore how AI processes and embodied interaction might be mobilized to present alternative representations of anonymity, while drawing attention to the complexities of representation, access and transmission of intangible cultural practices in the digital age.