After Life is a VR experience I created with Chenshan Gao. It is a progression that depicts a person’s journey from death to reincarnation. For all the things we meditate about reincarnation or even death itself, memory is the one concept we can’t escape. Where does a person’s memory go, when he or she is dead? Does it die with the person, or continues to exist to help him or her navigate to the next life? And if reincarnation is real, where is the memory of our previous lives? After Life is the manifestation of our speculations about death and reincarnation and their relationships with our memory, in the medium of virtual reality.
DEATH is about the last minutes of a person’s life. The EKG machine gradually stops beeping and the endless darkness starts to take over. We are immersed in water before we are born inside our mothers’ wombs. As the circle of life and death starts to close, we believe water is the contact point of their overlap.
TRANSIT is about transportation, two ever running clocks casting shadows on the surface of two trains that drive in opposite directions, one to the after life, one to the death itself. We construct those railroad blocks not only to function as supports for the trains but also as containers of the person’s memory. They fly up and reconfigure themselves into a specific date that relates to an important memory they contain, a kiss with his wife in the theater, an argument with his son, and the final image of them holding hands looking down beside the bed.
REMINISCENCE is a dome made out of those memory blocks. Each block moves up and down as if there is some force examining them. They are constantly reconfigured and repositioned all around the person, like a final non-linear run through of the person’s life before reincarnation. After a while, they stop, and the dome opens up.
REBORN is the reverse of the first. The EKG machine gradually starts to beep. Sunshine reflects on the surface of the water and finally a new life is born.
The project is developed in Unreal.