Sumac Puringashpa VR Experience

Interactive Media; Interdisciplinary Collaborations; Virtual Environments

Project Team

Prof. Alan Price (ACCAD/Design)
Prof. Michelle Wibblesman (Spanish & Portuguese) 
Norah Zuniga Shaw (ACCAD/Dance) 

Project Description

As a concept-oriented, semi-directed environment, Sumac Puringashpa encourages users to experience and engage with Andean and Amazonian ways of looking at and conceiving of the world. Rather than explain or tell the user about Andean and Amazonian Cultures, the project aims to allow users to discover on their own, central concepts in Andean and Amazonian cultures such as duality, reciprocity, transformation, mythic and mythical time-space, and recurring symbolic patterns.

Man with VR HeadsetVR Environment

Prof. Wibblesman says, “In Ecuadorian Quichua, sumac kawsay (also spelled sumak kawsay or sumaq causai) captures the essence of meaningful, beautiful, proper living and connotes a sense of “livability.” In indigenous worldview, making things knowledgeably and beautifully is conducive to meaningful and proper living, as is personal and collective reflection by way of oral traditions, participatory practices and indigenous art. Another key aspect of sumac kawsay is the practice of sustained dialogue, mutual nurturing, and exchange based on relations of respect and cariño (affect).”

The VR experience incorporates digital models created from Ohio State’s Andean and Amazonian Cultural Artifact Collection.  Using photogrammetry, select artifacts were reproduced at a high level of detail for close inspection in the VR environment and become a part of the interface and interaction design User interaction includes the ability to play wind instruments.

 Man with virtual panfluteVirtual Environment with Pan Flutes

A wireless microphone is added to the Head Mount Display for sensing the force of the users breath as he or she blows towards virtual instruments. We achieve this by way of user-interactive interfaces such as musical instruments, a shaman’s seat of power (Amazonian bancu), and cultural artifacts that explore these concepts through attention to perspective, scale, directionality of gaze, and the interaction between visual and aural scapes.

Funded by: Arts & Humanities Discovery Theme, 2016-18.