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Melodie Mousset

What does it feel like to have 1, 2, 3 bodies?

Most of us assume that we know what it feels like to own, control and be inside a body. The truth is that, unless suffering from neurological disorder, we don’t know how it feels not to have a body. This is the very place from which we feel we exist and through which the world exists for us. It is where we have cradled our cherished selves since first encountering our convincing mimetic double in the mirror.

How would you feel if drawing back the curtain of reality, you came to discover that you had no self? How would you feel if you discovered that «you» were only the product of a fine-tuned neurological process that gives «you» the conscious experience of being someone?

What if that illusion could be reproduced mechanically? Would «you» as a phenomena occur more than once simultaneously, in multiple bodies, human, and non-human? In that dislocation, multiplication of your self, would you lose that special aura that makes you so unique and so authentic?

Merging personal narratives, with fantasy and critical topics arising from the development of virtual reality technologies, the talk will present how my long-time interest in the fragmented body and artistic investigation into the elusive self has led me to work with this immersive medium today. The focus will be on my latest interactive VR piece HanaHana 花華. There, the player embodied in a swarm of molecules without skin is granted the magic power of sprouting hands, a chain of hands and everything one can imagine out of this root component in a collective sandbox gameplay. In this surreal experience, virtual reality merges with the unconscious for a harrowing journey into the depths of our mind, body and senses.

The work is inspired by the famous manga «One Piece», in which the character Nico Robin has the power to infinitely reproduce her own body parts on her enemies’ skin thanks to the magic of the Hana Hana no Mi devil fruit. VR technology, like devil fruit, allows us to experience the excitement, the awe and the fear raised by the multiplication of our digital bodies.