The Mirage

Envisioned by Ava Kling with me collaborating as an architectural designer, the Mirage is a virtual reality spa in which people experience the happiest memories of their community as therapy. We installed from November 23-24 in Pittsburgh and intend to do it again in the coming months as part of a developing, long term project.

In a public venue a large pavilion, the Pod, will be built to house the Nest, the VR headset through which the memory interpretations are viewed. The venue is arranged like a clinic, with a reception desk foregrounding the Pod, lit in soft rainbow and submerged in dreamy fog.

Visitors to the Mirage (a free event) schedule a 5 minute appointment upon entry. When their name is called, they enter the Pod and explore a virtual reality memory we've collected from a donor. In this situation, the visitor is more than a spectator, interacting with docents, choosing a memory, engaging with the emotions of a stranger, and being buffeted by multi sensory stimulus.

We want to collect as many happy memories as possible - by publicizing on social media, asking friends and neighbors, hanging posters - anyone is invited to share. Participants sit for a video session or send one in on their own. Most of these are shown at the event, and a few are selected for interpretation by VR artists. Our goal is to increase our bank of memories so that visitors can have a wide selection of therapies.

Funded by Pittsburgh, PA (February 2020)