Visual culture dominates our societies, every day encouraging and rewarding corporations and their users to create more visual content to populate their digital spaces and build their digital lives. But what if there was an unseen method of disruption to these powers? What can we learn from the blind and their increased awareness of sound and vibration to disrupt and circumvent these powers without detection?
As we move towards immersive computing (XR) being the primary means of human-computer interaction, are we thinking of the blind and visually impaired? To this date, the simple answer to that question is no. However, through the visual innovations of VR HMDs, we have seen a strong momentum build for improved sonic and tactile computer interfaces. In my project Infinite Observer, I am working directly with blind innovators and content creators to set standards for UX in VR, and to empower the next generation of computing to support accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.
Infinite Observer is the first narrative VR experience designed from the ground up by the blind for the blind. The experience places you in an underground ring of blind hackers called the Infinite Observers. As you discover throughout the experience, the group is filled with members of unique sensory skill sets and a deep understanding of the vibratory qualities that make sound so powerful. They monitor movements using echolocation and build resonant frequency-based weaponry. They can shift tectonic plates, teleport using molecular vibration, and hack into digital communication via sub-frequencies undetectable to the typical human ear. And you (as the user)…your purpose is to learn these skills and secretly take them to the AG to subvert the present, corrupted visual culture.
The goal of the experience is to empower its users, and create a heightened appreciation for the hidden powers of the senses beyond sight. It is also meant to instill clarity around the dominance of the visual in modern culture, and inspire ways to circumvent this. As hackers, I would hope for a discussion surrounding possible techniques that might be used by the Infinite Observers, and how sound/vibration can facilitate either increased privacy/anonimity or direct disruption of dominant visual media in the real world.
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