‘DeathTolls Experience’ visualizes the data behind the dead through virtual reality. Every day, countless tragic deaths number reach us through the news. Iranian computer artist Ali Eslami puts the tragedy of the victims in another perspective through his virtual reality experience. He wants to make us aware of the reality that is sometimes overshadowed by big data.
DeathTolls Experience is a journey through the Information that we overly hear in the news every day. It’s a Virtual Reality project that puts the user between all the dead bodies in recent mass death. the journey begins from Europe [Brussels Shootings,Paris Attacks,Nice Attack], then goes to the Mediterranean Sea [refugees who drowned in the sea last year] and ends up in the Middle East [Syrian Civilian deathtoll]. This experience provides a mirror to our own actions as collective of humans. We perceive our surrounding reality based on our Knowledge base (Perceptual set) and this project tries to provide a knowledge base to perceive a fracture of our actions as a collective of humans. One of the pieces that is missing in our knowledge base is the ability to perceive Big Numbers. We have trouble understanding and accepting mass death . For example, numbers like 1; 2; 14; 20; 50, are all quantities that we encounter quite frequently and therefore we’re able to rationalize them with a representative mind model. But then we get to numbers like 1,000; 10,000; 20,000. These numbers become increasingly difficult to conceptualize, but we can still grasp the general meaning of such numbers using visual models of large scale things we encounter often in our little realities. So in this project for each dataset (Deathtoll) I made a specific environment that is relative to the data. this makes it more intuitive for the user to understand and relate to the information that lies in each environment.
I did lots of research on human perception and cognitive science and was quite interested in exploring new pathways in the perception of Data. I found VR the greatest tool to mess around with this Idea and started prototyping the Idea I had about representing Data in VR which I call it ‘Data Experience’. Firstly I think Death Toll is a data-set that we approach 9/10 times when we hear the news ! the chance of hearing a count of Dead and wounded people in the news is quite high ! but the point is Do we have any Idea about these numbers that we encounter daily ?! I believe not … because Once something gets over-perceived (i.e. dead numbers) our mind basically ignores it and most likely it won’t find a way through our Consciousness. which means We are not aware of these Data that’s basically the consequence of our own actions on Earth! So What I tried to achieve with this project is enhancing the perception of these data. because I think It’s necessary to be aware of our surroundings and actions. It somehow shows a visual model of huge numbers , like 120,000 civilian death toll in Syria. that gives the user a vision to eventually have a more accurate Idea of the numbers he/she hears next time in the news. I have the passion for creating something that can lead to a better awareness of our surrounding and push away the interfaces that disconnect us from our own actions in this Reality. What makes me excited about it is the potential impact on the people who try it.
Made by Ali Eslami
Music – Nima Pourkarimi (a.k.a Umchunga)
With Support from AgeOfWonderland: Bigdata, Bigdada?! 2016
Powered by Unreal Engine
Press and Recognition
Awarded for IDFA Doclab’s Immersive Non-fiction
Featured at MIT’s Opendoclab Docubase
Longlisted at Kantar Information is beautiful awards 2015
Dutch Design Week – Eindhoven [Oct 2016]
IDFA Festival – Amsterdam [Nov 2016]
SXSW Virtual Cinema 2017 – Austin, Texas [Mar 2017]
Kaleidoscope VR – Showcase Vol 2 Official Selection
Sheffield DocFest – Alternate Realities [June 2017]
Forum Des Images – Paris Virtual Film Festival [June 2017]
DocMontevideo – Uruguay [August 2017]
Getxophoto Festival – Bilbao, Spain [September 2017]
Festival Du Nouveau Cinema – Montreal [October 2017]