With DeathTolls Experience, up-and-coming Iranian virtual reality artist Ali Eslami is seeking to resensitize the general public to the reality behind the abstract statistics on the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Middle East. When news media bombard us with facts and figures every day, they gradually lose their emotional urgency. Eventually, our brains automatically filter out this dry “data reality,” even though it is crying out for our attention. The war in Syria is a good example. Eslami takes this psychological effect as the starting point for an investigation of how virtual reality can not only restore empathy, but also provide a context to news reports in which the numbers of victims can be counted but not comprehended. On the basis of a virtual journey through the history of European bloodbaths, an ocean filled with body bags containing recently drowned Syrian refugees, and casualties of the Syrian civil war, DeathTolls Experience immerses us in the meaning of these figures, opening up an emotional perspective on this suffering and terror.
The piece is available to download on HTC's Viveport store.