The Library of Ourselves is based on the technology of The Machine To Be Another. It combines Virtual Reality with embodiment research and documentary filming techniques. The Library enables both the creation and production, as well as the reception and experience, of immersive and embodied 360° VR FILMS. The 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 is a new kind of embodied documentary practice for immersive storytelling. Each narrative is co-created by BAL and the storyteller, recorded from their individual first-person perspective, told and enacted in a manner meaningful to them. The user experiences the narrative from the first-person perspective of the storyteller and “swaps bodies” with 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 storytelling.
2015 – now
Lifestories. Immersive Storytelling. Journalism. Documentary Arts. Embodiment. Virtual Reality. Empathy. Research. Education. Social Innovation.
Immersive Documentary Films
The Social VR Stations
The Library of Ourselves constitutes an archive of Embodied Narratives from many regions in the world. Currently, the continuously growing archive holds 12 VR films addressing issues such as immigration and xenophobia, racism, gender bias and police violence. The immersive films were recorded in the Netherlands, Spain, Columbia, Brazil, Jordan, and other places. Each is approximately 5 – 8 minutes long. We exhibit this archive of individual life-stories in our Social VR Stations.
The Social VR Station is an installation that 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.
From our video archive
The Library of Ourselves. Project Description (2017). This video is an early project description, summarising our research and development of/with the cinematic VR technology of The Library.
City of God Against Police Violence. Project Documentation Video (2016). In English. The video provides a glimpse of BAL’s collaboration with families from the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, and their struggle against police violence. Together, we co-created two Embodied VR Narratives with The Library technology. The storytellers have lost beloved ones in the war between police, traffic dealers and militia. They share their experiences with the audience of the immersive and embodied documentary films.
The project was part of FLUP – The Urban Peripheries Literary Festival (2016), held annually in the favelas and peripheries of Rio de Janeiro, areas conventionally excluded from art and cultural events, such as literary fair circuits and book festivals. Video courtesy of AJ+
Um Menino Chamado Maycon (2016). A Boy Named Maycon. In Brazilian Portuguese. The video shows parts of the Embodied Narrative of Sr. José and Da. Penha who have lost their 2-year-old son Maycon in a violent incident outside their house in one of Rio’s poor neighbourhoods. The video also shows The Library as an installation and how to make the immersive documentary film an embodied experience by engaging the user in multisensory cues.
Sr. José and Da. Penha’s Embodied Narrative is one of the immersive films we co-created for FLUP – The Urban Peripheries Literary Festival (2016). Our work was covered by multiple press and media outlets. Here is a report by Globo News in Brazilian Portuguese.
Facilitating Embodied Narratives @ The Library of Ourselves (2017). The video shows two set-ups of The Library of Ourselves during the exhibition Beyond Us and Them at Fotodok in Utrecht (01/09-20/10/2017). The video documents how the facilitators guide the experience and provide sensory cues such as touch. On the left, Danielle provides the multisensory feedback of the Embodied Narrative we co-created with Jonah (2017), produced in The Netherlands.
Projet Rêve: Imaginez-vous avec la dyslexie (2019). In French. A partnership involving BeAnotherLab, the Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI at Paris Descartes University), and the French Ministry of National Education and Youth, this project was dedicated to enhancing educators’ understanding of the socio-emotional requirements of students with dyslexia. Its primary objective was to enable teachers to immerse themselves in the lived experiences of these students, thereby gaining profound insights into dyslexia. Find more details about this work here and in our portfolio and archive, here.
After The Library Experience (2019). In English. This video captures the reaction of Mr. Paul Popoola, Training Consultant and Delegate at the Wise Summit in Doha, Qatar (20-21/11/2019), where BeAnotherLab exhibited The Library of Ourselves, held a workshop and participated in a panel discussion.