Being Alyosha

Being Alyosha


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2019, Mixed reality performance in public space

The project "Being Alyosha" aims to create an illusion of "body swap" between the viewer and the monument of Alyosha. It is accepted that monuments should be viewed with respect, from distance, especially in former communist countries where the citizens had to mandatory demonstrate their love for the Communist heroes (in this case a Soviet soldier) and even had to stand in armed guard in front of them. The best way for people to free themselves from their lingering emotional dependence on monuments is to stand in their place and “feel” like a monument. This process of liberation in anthropology is known as demythologisation. With virtual reality technology, this process of "body exchange" with a monument is fully possible and for the first time such an experiment was carried out with the Alyosha Monument in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Technically and scientifically, the art project "Being Alyosha" is a continuation of body swap experiments in which the viewer's brain is misled into perceiving another's body as her/his own. It is also based on the "out of body" experience. The project uses FPV visual processing developed for racing drones. The camera of the drone plays a role of “remote” eyes/vision and this helps develop an effect of immersive experience. During the performance the audience is split in two parts: one half has FPVs and is looking down into their own feet and they are seeing the point of view of the drone, lingering above the head of the monument and looking down into Alyosha's boots. The second half of the audience is touching down one of the legs of each FPV viewer, repeating simultaneously the action of the artist Petko Dourmana, who is pushing the same leg of the monument with a huge bright plastic board. This creates the illusion for the viewer with the FPV glasses that he or she is the monument, because at the same time with the visual interaction his or her leg is being touched. After few repetitions viewer and pusher exchange.

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The video is from TV report for the Bulgarian National Television, made by Vladislav Sevov