Experimental VR experience | Hacking Story Frameworks class
Role: concept development, research, audio editing, UX design, user testing, programming
Project created in collaboration with Rebecca Ricks
Showed at ITP Winter Show, NYU, December 2016

yamammy is a 9 minute experimental documentary experience in VR that explores how displaced refugees navigate a world in which they possess disparate overlapping ethnic, religious, and regional identities. Technology used: Unity, 3D modelling, photogrammetry (PhotoScan and Meshmixer), audio production (Adobe Premiere) , Android (Samsung GearVR headset).
In this project, former refugee from Sierra Leone Yamammy describes her feelings about major life transitions – leaving Sierra Leone, adjusting to American cultural norms, entering into an interracial marriage – and how her sense of home and identity has evolved over time.

This documentary is an exploration of locative memory - memories that are bound to location or spatial dimensions. Using experimental imaging and audio techniques, the project paints a fragmentary digital portrait of Yamammy using stories she describes.

In a series of audio recordings, Yamammy tells stories about her identity and place- making. Many of the experiences she describes are disjointed and non-linear. Memory itself functions in this way: it’s fragmentary, it’s unreliable, and we tend to remember the stories that match patterns.

The documentary pairs a compelling personal portrait of Yamammy with visuals that match the tone of the stories - a mix of photogrammetry and three-dimensional models that evoke the fragmentary nature of memory.

User experience

The viewer has the autonomy to decide which pieces of the narrative to explore, while the tone and visual atmosphere of each segment remains thoughtfully curated. Because Yamammy’s memories are themselves so compelling, the audio sets the tone for the entire experience.

  1. The experience starts when participant enters the installation, which is designed to allow her to move around comfortably.
  2. Participant sits down in the chair and puts on the headset.
  3. Experience takes participants through different narrative pieces that blend into a full portrait of Yamammy's story.

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