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IDRM researchers present Shaping Destiny VR experience

Researcher talking to a young person wearing a VR headset

Researchers from IDRM joined Body Politic dance group members at Pegasus Theatre on November 21st to showcase a VR experience created by the interdisciplinary Shaping Destiny public engagement project. 

Dr Shankar Srinivas, Dr Tomoko Watanabe, and Dr Claudio Cortes Rodriguez presented the collaboratively developed virtual reality experience to the young people of Body Politic, a dance group involved in the Shaping Destiny project. 

The winter term sharing day was also attended by Professor Wes Williams,  co-PI on the project, Jane Castree, project officer (TORCH), Kostas Pataridis, and Megan Goundry-Napthine, a student volunteer. ​​​​​

Shaping Destiny – Experiments in Embodiment' explores the tension between the genetic determination of our physical form and the manifest ability of individuals to transcend biological determinism and societal constraints. This project is a collaboration between Prof Shankar Srinivas and Dr. Tomoko Watanabe at the IDRM, with Prof Wes Williams, a colleague in the Humanities Division, with an interest in medieval perceptions of the ‘monstrous’ in the context of congenital developmental abnormalities. We have partnered with two community groups, Parasol Oxford and Body Politic, which use dance to enrich the lives of young people, to co-create dance inspired by our academic research. In collaboration with two other partners, Alex Whitley, a London-based choreographer, and Kostas Pataridis, an Oxford-based digital artist, we are transforming the dance created by the young people at Parasol Oxford and Body Politic into digital art, including a component that is suitable for presentation in a Virtual Reality (VR) format. The ‘what-if world’ of this movement-based art, will help us explore different perspectives on how the form of the body is determined.

Shankar and Wes engaged with young people in Body Politic last spring, talking about their research on body forms and perception in history and the current biomedical science. The young dancers, in turn, exchanged their ideas with another group, the Parasol Project. Both groups created movements inspired by the research and were scanned in 3D. 

The scans were then used to create a VR experience featuring those young people from Oxford by Alexander Whitley and Kostas Pataridis from Andromeda Software Development. The collaborators of the project are currently trying to finish the VR experience production. 

The larger Shaping Destiny project uses 'Experiments in Embodiment' to explore different perspectives on the shape of the human body. This is done by uniting research from the humanities and molecular genetics and engaging with partners and community groups. The project is led by Dr Tomoko Watanabe and aims to understand and challenge our collective understanding of human destiny and our personal sense of embodiment.

More information about Shaping Destiny can be found on their Twitter profile and Instagram page. If you would like any further information about the project, please contact Jane Castree, Shaping Destiny project officer, or Rufina Kaloyanova, IDRM Communications officer.


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