Discover ecology and the environment through VR art
If you want to go on an outdoor adventure without breaking a sweat, check out Shore Seekers World, a virtual reality art-meets-gaming experience that allows participants to explore the Johor Strait and learn more about the environmental issue of plastic pollution. Participants play the role of debris collectors in the game and are tasked to gather microplastics strewn along the coastline of the Strait.
The online experience is the brainchild of artist Ernest Goh, 42, founder of the ecologically-engaged art collective Ayer Ayer Project. Read on as he shares about the inspiration for Shore Seekers World and why he chose to educate the public about the environment through art:
What inspired you to create Shore Seekers World?
It is one of a number of community projects I have embarked on to help the public understand more about the environment. I spent my early childhood playing in the longkangs around the Siglap kampungs where my grandmother lived, and I continue to be fascinated by wildlife as an artist.
In 2011, I published The Fish Book, a series of photographic portraits of ornamental fish, and that was when I started to learn more about water pollution. A few years later, I founded Ayer Ayer Project to share with the public what I have learnt about the natural environment and the complications of ocean plastic pollution in Singapore, through art.
Why make Shore Seekers World a virtual reality experience?
Ayer Ayer Project is always searching for new and interesting ways to engage the public on environmental issues. With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we have not been able to do so through Shore Debris Table, our in-person public participatory artwork where we invite participants to try their hand at removing small microplastic fragments from the shore debris.
To engage with people online, we came up with the idea of creating a digital version of Shore Debris Table. The creative team further developed it into a VR experience that gives participants the opportunity to travel to different locations beyond Singapore’s shores and share stories about those locations.
What do you hope participants will take away from the experience?
That they will understand the plastic crisis a little better, and if not that, to simply go on a micro “getaway” and visit different shores in the Johor Strait.
Replies were edited and condensed for clarity.