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Queerskins: ark continues the story of Mary-Helen—a devoutly Catholic mother who reconnects with her son, Sebastian, through his diary and her imagination. Envisioning a scene from Sebastian’s diary, she imagines him alive and in love.
The viewer finds herself in a dimly lit attic bedroom, a place that seems to be stuck in time, heavy with memory. Here, you assume the passive role of an observer in a 360˚ environment. Unable to move, you can examine the memorabilia- laden surroundings and begin to get an idea of time, place and what the story might be about.Mary-Helen begins reading her son’s diary.
You now find yourself on a beach at dawn. If you look behind. Sebastian and his lover Alex appear, like a daydream nearby in the landscape. We allow Sebastian to break the 4th wall and directly implicate you in the scene. We position you quite close to the two men, just outside their personal space as you listen to their conversation.
The scene crossfades to an abstraction of the beach. A color pallet of yellows, blues, pinks and deep shadow. Sebastian and Alex begin an intimate dance.
You are now back in the attic. It is the magic hour. The room is lit with a flat, golden light, reminiscent of the light on the beach. With a return of detail and color, it feels like the room has come back to life.
Queerskins Home is a virtual interactive installation housed on the free, multiplayer virtual reality social media platform VRChat. The installation functions as a kind of 3 dimension story space for the story behind Queerskins: ARK. Here, in this dreamlike interior of a house and a Missouri town, you can explore the memories left behind by Sebastian, a gay man estranged from his rural Catholic Missouri family who dies of AIDS in 1990, his mother, Mary-Helen, and his lover, Alex. Pick up and examine original and crowd-sourced images and spatialized audio objects curated from Queerskins, our Peabody award-winning transmedia project a decade in the making and still expanding.
From left to right: choreographer Brandon Powers, writer/director Illya Szilak, supervising producer Kathleen Fox and executive producer Sarah Vick invite you to join the fun in the “Queerskins Home” world in VRChat.
Attic. In the attic, you can revisit the box of Sebastian’s belongings seen in “Queerskins: a love story” and “Queerskins: ARK” VR experiences. Look inside and pick up his diary. Follow the sounds of the ocean to the window, and poke your head out.
Hallway. Portraits feature visitors from the “Queerskins: a love story” VR installation posing with an object that resonates with their own story of love and loss. Look in the mirror and add your own avatar to the queer family photos.
Closet. A neon heart emits a lurid red glow, as sounds of churchgoers’ singing “Amazing Grace” filter through the back wall.
Mary-Helen’s room. In Mary-Helen’s room papered in roses (her favorite), each lipstick on the vanity acts as a spatial audio object revealing some of her secrets.
Queerskins: ARK creators and artists talk with Executive Producer Sarah Vick about the making of this heart-wrenching drama and the potential of volumetric video.
Co-stars Michael DeBartolo (Sebastian) and Christopher Vo (Alex) rehearse on Intel Studio’s volumetric stage and El Matador Beach in Los Angeles, California.
Behind the Scenes during production of Queerskins: ARK at Intel Studios.
Illya Szilak is an independent scholar, writer and new media artist. In her art practice, she uses open source media and collaborations forged via the Internet to create multimedia narrative installations online.
Shaped by her experience as a physician, her artistic practice explores mortality, embodiment, identity, and belief in a media inundated by an increasingly virtual world.
Cyril Tsiboulski is co-founder and creative director at Cloudred, a digital design practice that is both an independent content-producing creative studio and a service-based agency with global clientele across corporate, government, civic and cultural domains. He is also a faculty member at New York University where he teaches in the Digital Communications and Media Program.
Choreographer Brandon Powers creates seamless visceral experiences at the intersection of theatre, dance, and technology. The form of these experiences are determined and constructed by fusing techniques from by background in immersive theatre, musical theatre, and Modern dance. Brandon is committed to investigating technology’s effect on our culture, minds and private experiences by creating experiences which embrace technology’s role in our lives as a connector and community building tool.
Writer & Director
Associate Choreographer & Movement Coach
Director of Volumetric & 360 Photography
Wilbert Roget, II
Supervising Sound Designer
First AD & Director of
Ana Miren Achaval
John ‘JB’ Battaglia
Brian Van Guilder
Audio Capture by Ecco VR
Hair & Make-Up
Daniel Rivas Perpen
Head of Product Development
Volumetric Software Engineer
Color & Finish
Hair & Makeup
Attic Piano Performance
Lead Unity Engineer
Lead Graphics Engineer
Alvaro Sierra, Jr
3D Environment Artists
Supervising Sound Editor
Technical Audio Designers
Wilbert Roget, II
Copyist, Recording Assistant
Blue Room Post -
Behind the Scenes
Pelosi Wolf Effron & Spates
Fancy Rainbow Counsel
John Pelosi, Esq.
Head of Programme
Heads of Studies
Aida Holly Nambi
Amaury La Burthe