Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a plant? Perhaps a frog, a slug, or an orchid-butterfly hybrid? Or maybe you’re not an organic lifeform at all!
This November 2022 through February 2023, the PAM CUT // Center for an Untold Tomorrow building at 934 SW Salmon Street will come to life with the U.S. debut of Symbiosis, a performative, multiuser, and multisensory installation in which the human body will be redesigned to merge with technology and nature itself.
One of the first fully sensory Extended Reality (XR) storytelling experiences—including individualized haptic suits, soft robotics, VR audio and visual, as well as taste and smell-based story elements—Symbiosis takes immersive storytelling to a whole new level.
The latest from Dutch experience design collective Polymorf, by directors Marcel van Brakel and Mark Meeuwenoord, in partnership with Studio Biarritz,this XR experience will transport participants 200 years into the future where a rich biosphere of mixed life-forms has taken over the earth: human-animal, and human-machine hybrids. In a performative installation allowing each participant to embody one of these symbiotic life forms, they will use all five senses to transform into entirely new beings and envision a post-human world where there is no competition, only symbiosis.
How multisensory is this, you ask? All five senses are engaged as you are transformed into a post-human hybrid creature, and PAM CUT is the only place in the country where this can be experienced. When you arrive at the Center for an Untold Tomorrow, you will be welcomed in the front lobby and fitted into a suit specially designed for this exhibition.
Each experience comes with a uniquely designed soft robotic suit that manipulates your body, transforms your posture and sensory perception of the Symbiosis world. VR sensors attached to your creatures’ suit will reveal your post-human body, and allows you to play and move in the Symbiosis world. The VR headsets are also equipped with olfactory fixtures that emit specially designed aromas that release in sync with each specific experience. And your sense of taste will be activated with vegetarian snacks designed by master chefs.
Symbiosis is inspired by Donna Haraway’s book Staying with the Trouble, in particular a chapter in which the noted ecofeminist scholar imagines a post-humanist future with humans and monarch butterflies symbiogenetically joined. Talented actors voice the characters, which include variations on a Colorado river toad, a slime mold, a flowering camellia, and anglerfish, among others.
See and learn more about Symbiosis at https://www.symbiosis.show.
How It Works:
PAM CUT staff will facilitate participants throughout the entire experience, including the onboarding in which participants will negotiate their character selections. Each session runs for roughly 45 minutes, 15 of which are in the virtual world, and up to six people can participate at a time. Please read the FAQ to learn more.
Tickets: $30 per participant. $25 for Portland Art Museum members.
Interview with Marcel van Brakel and Mark Meeuwenoord
Symbiosis is made possible thanks to the generous support of Nike, HTC Vive, Flatline Fabrication, and the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.