Wish You Were Here – an anti-documentary that breaks the rules of VR
VR promises to take you ‘inside’, it seeks to create a sense of being ‘there’, to be able to enter someone’s life and even to simulate being someone else. This is what is known as immersive storytelling. But to what extent can we really look through someone else’s eyes, and above all, how much are we really prepared to see and feel? How much empathy and willingness to empathise do we have in ourselves? In Wish You Were Here, we meet Aneta, who is 36 years old and has been diagnosed with breast cancer. From the window of her house she can see a walnut orchard, which is slowly being replaced by a new housing estate made up of blocks of flats. Wish You Were Here is a classic documentary that, thanks to VR technology, allows you to look behind the scenes of the making of the film. It is both an anti-documentary and breaks the rules of VR, depriving the viewer of the illusion of intimate contact with the protagonist.
The image is not intended to imitate, but to be treated as a tool to influence viewers’ physical reactions. A good example of this is the scene with the graphic ball. Its purpose is not to just present an image, but to move the body of the viewer, who will follow it with their eyes, and consequently their head, neck and whole body. Director Michal Stankiewicz is primarily interested in how images can affect the mobility of viewers’ bodies, and thus evoke emotional states. The narrator’s voice, which appears in the “experience”, is treated as framing the camera movement, but also as an opportunity to apply layers that are invisible to the eye. How the voice speaks and puts accents will also resonate in the viewer’s body.
The viewer is always a partner of the director’s, a co-creator. That’s why in his works he allows the viewer to observe himself, to focus on his feelings. In Somebody About You, this observation of impulses coming from the body is the essence of the experience, the content of Aneta’s transfer. The viewer’s body becomes the medium, the heart of the transfer, while the viewer’s individual perception is a random element characteristic of generative art.
Michał Stankiewicz – works in the field of performing and visual arts. He is inspired by performance, post-conceptual art, cognitive science research, but also magic and folk art. In designing experiences, he looks for random events and places that cannot be directed. He has taken part in Polish and international festivals, including the Theatre Olympiad in India, AltoFest in Naples, Performance Arcade in New Zealand, CAOS in Turin, and the College Cinema VR Biennale in Venice. He likes to think of his work as preparing dinner for friends or stepping into an icy river together.