Worth Ryder Art Gallery,
University of California,
Berkeley, 2018

Passenger is a site specific encounter with VR’s potential to approximate the liminal states that allow for out of body experiences. We find ourselves quieted by a powerfully suggestive hypnotic voice encouraging our passage into a relaxed and meditative state as we lay quietly still. Rising from our reclining body in a gentle drift we travel out and through the gallery into a dark corridor. Our next view is of the inside of a drawer and we are startled to find ourselves inside a vast collection of bird specimen. Frozen, caught in an in between state that strangely mirrors our own, the birds are both familiar and unknown. Moving with the drift of the dreaming body we can look closely at these birds in layer upon layer of drawers and vitrines. Markers of unknowable territories, states of being, and layers of consciousness, our time with the dead but preserved specimen is as a visitor, looking in ways and places only our particular momentary status can afford. The experience is an invitation to consider that VR is capable of instigating states of consciousness and forms of connection and discovery that go well beyond entertainment, play, or fantasy and can in fact open and expand our awareness and curiosity in the exploration of our own consciousness.

The title of the work is named after the now extinct specimens of Passenger Pigeons that are in the Museum's collection and visible in the film. These birds are in the process of undergoing de-extinction through a special program that is working with genes extracted from their DNA.

Deep Dive Exhibition or the Limits of Immersion - Virtual Reality Exhibition.
Worth Ryder Art Gallery
4th April 2018
Olivia Ting: Director of Photography
Scout Darling: Editor
Department of Art Practice
Curated by Asma Kazmi
Kate Bell
Farley Gwazda
Thanks to:
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
Leleña Avila
Carla Cicero Studley