The Library of Ourselves is a system developed by BeAnotherLab. The Library is based on the technology of The Machine To Be Another and enables the creation and experience of 360° VR FILMS. These VR films allow users to step into the shoes of a storyteller and to experience their narrative from their point of view. Each VR film is a deeply immersive experience of another’s first-person perspective, without losing the quality of embodied tactility for which The Machine is famous.
The Library combines our Machine technology with VR filming techniques for a new kind of immersive and embodied documentary practice. In this form of storytelling, the user experiences the narration from the first-person perspective of the storyteller. Each narrative is co-directed by the storyteller, recorded from their individual first-person perspective, told and enacted in a manner meaningful to them. BeAnotherLab produces these immersive VR films and provides training for those who wish to use The Library as a creative tool for research, education and their own storytelling.
2015 – now
Lifestories. Embodiment. VR. Empathy. Artistic Research. Understanding. Interdisciplinarity. Education. Immersive. Journalism. Documentation. Social Innovation. Functional Diversity.
The Social VR Stations
The Library of Ourselves constitutes an archive of embodied narratives from many different regions in the world. This archive currently holds 12 VR films recorded in the Netherlands, Spain, Columbia, Brazil and Jordan among other places. The immersive experiences address a wide range of issues, including immigration and xenophobia, racism, gender bias and police violence. Each is approximately 10 minutes long. We exhibit parts of this archive of individual life-stories in Social VR Stations.
The physical stations of The Library of Ourselves can be set up as a long-term exhibit and educational tool in any kind of cultural, social or research institution. Each Social VR Station is custom-made for the respective space and designed to engage one pair of users at the time. The pair can alternate their roles between USER, the person who actively immerses themselves in the VR experience, and GUIDE, the person who facilitates the tactile dimension of the experience, as specified by the instructions that come with the system.
The role of educators who provide public access to The Library system is open to their own agenda. Unlike The Machine To Be Another, The Library does not require the presence of two facilitators who assist in the experience. Instead, the experience of the VR films in the Library of Ourselves is enacted by each user pair. The full potential of The Library as a tool to stimulate self-reflection, critical thinking and perspective-taking emerges in dialogue after the experience.
How would it be to experience life...
...in another person's shoes?
The Library of Ourselves is a long-term research project. BeAnotherLab envisions the development of a digital platform that will allow researchers to collect data from users related to their experiences. The aim is to better understand the relationship between identity and empathy and to further investigate the effects of immersive experiences. This current research agenda aims to generate artistic knowledge of how to use Embodied VR experiences to promote empathy as well as scientific knowledge of the relationship between human perception and technical systems.