Living, and other afflictions’ is a research prototype of a Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality immersive experience that explores the unraveling of identity and reality through first-person narrative. Designed as an immersive experience for adult audiences with additional application as a learning tool for Medical Professionals so they can appreciate their own fragility and develop empathy for their patients. 

The project is grounded in an interdisciplinary development process led by Visual Artist Conan McIvor in consultation with Medical Doctor/Writer Michael J. Daly. It will explore innovative storytelling techniques through a multi-sensory approach and redefine the use of virtual reality and new mixed-reality in Visual Arts. This project seeks to advance these technologies in a multi-dimensional layered approach, i.e. mixed reality VR/AR headset, sensory performance, and hospital bed installation setting – thereby blending real/virtual, truth/fiction, self/other across mediums in a uniquely personal and evocative experience.

This semi-autobiographical work draws upon the recent illness of the artist’s long-term collaborator Dr. Michael J. Daly. In April 2021, he fell critically ill with adult-onset Kawasaki disease, leaving him near death in intensive care for weeks. During this time, he suffered prolonged bouts of visual hallucinatory delirium in which he experienced various scenarios with loved ones and fantastical trips from his hospital bed; his rational brain grappled with this altered reality, debating what was real and what was not. The collaborators attempt to translate his inpatient experience as a medical doctor on the ‘other side of the fence’ into a Mixed Reality experience that communicates his journey of fear, discovery, and hope while at his most vulnerable. 

While there has been significant experimentation with Virtual Reality in the Visual Arts, this project marks a new milestone in innovation, experimentation, and collaboration through new MR technology, sensory performance, and design. Entanglements between the subject and matter, where technology mediates storytelling.