• Roger Matthews

Virtual Reincarnation - Headsight

In 1961, the Headsight was developed by the military to allow a virtual way to remotely view real life dangerous situations. The user's headset showed a live feed of a video camera that they could control by moving their head.

In this modern day re imagining, the user will wear an Oculus Rift (or similar) VR headset that is connected to a remote camera. The user will be able to view this remote camera via a live video stream, and when they move their head, the remote camera will move with them.

The camera itself will placed in a large room adjacent to where the headset is setup. Participants will be free to walk into either room. I am thinking of using a lower quality video camera to give the video a feed an intentionally voyeuristic look of a security camera.

I chose this system because while it mimics the original Headsight's concept, it gives participants an opportunity to choose which room they engage with. They can either be voyeurs while wearing a headset, or allow themselves to be observed by the camera in the second room.


The installation will have the aesthetic of an old worn down military warehouse. The headset room will be littered with old wires and fragments of electronic devices on the floor, to give the impression they are part of a secret experiment. In the camera room, it will be large and have a few military themed props the participants will be free to play with.

The reasoning behind this approach is to play with what the idea of what we (or the government) consider"dangerous". Instead of literally looking at a dangerous situation from a distance, the wearer of the headset will be viewing whatever people have wandered into the room with the camera.

After all, throughout history, the government has conducted surveillance on people it considers dangerous. Also as individuals, we can distrust one another, and look at each other from a guarded distance. With technology, it becomes increasingly easy to distance ourselves from one another, as well.

The subtext of this installation is to highlight the disconnect from each other we can have both societally and individually. However, it is also setup in an open-ended way to encourage playful performances from those observed in the room with the camera, so the hope is to mainly encourage creativity from its participants. Rather than dictate any specific commentary, viewing the installation could vary from creepy/uncomfortable to humorous.

Very often VR experiences can be designed as spectacles to entrance the viewer. This installation's goal is to ultimately challenge this concept of needing to entertain through escapism, and instead provide an open ended portrayal of reality.

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