Creative non-fiction video
Experiential Technology Collaborations
360-degree videos + VR/AR
A Tale of Two Islands
Shared histories since the birth of globalization
RHUNHATTAN explores a pivotal moment in world history: the trade of Manhattan island ignited by a tiny seed. In 1667, the world map was redrawn when the Dutch traded the island of Manhattan for the English colony of Rhun, in Indonesia’s Banda Island Archipelago, in an attempt to corner the nutmeg trade. This momentous land exchange, over spices, precipitated change that set in motion unstoppable waves of displacements, migrations, and laid the ground for economic systems that shape our lives to this day.
5 min video excerpt from Rhunhattan (work in progress)
RHUNHATTAN began in 2015 as an educative project that developed out of research into food-ways, plant based histories, travel and international commerce. Working backwards, told through the voices of locals and seen through the landscape of what exists today, we uncover buried stories of European colonial expansion, trade and the making of globalization, as well as the unheard voices of the Indigenous peoples who saw a New World created where they stood.
RHUNHATTAN is a tale of two islands told through immersive platforms including virtual reality, olfactory sculptural installations, and site-responsive performances enhanced by augmented reality, to explore intertwined geopolitical fates and globalization’s wheel of fortune. The social history of plants reveals wealth inequality, environmental degradation, and patterns of exploitation
Augmented and Virtual Reality activated exhibition, lab and classroom at New York University's Asian/Pacific/American Institute
Inspired by the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Lenape peoples, The Wayfinding Project is initiated by John Kuo Wei Tchen and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, in collaboration with artist Beatrice Glow and creative technologist Alexandre Girardeau, to promote curiosity, research, and decolonize New York’s history. The project heeds this ancient wayfinding practice for environmental, cultural, and philosophical stewardship, towards exploring and documenting Lenape knowledge of Mannahatta, the pre-seventeenth century New York brimming with a diverse and dense geo-culture of land and waters.
The installation questions the representation of Indigenous cultures in relation to aesthetics of colonial history. The objects, paintings, and prints on view each have augmented reality features—videos, animations, sound media—that superimpose alternative visions to Eurocentric worldviews. On display are three paintings on mylar overlaying reproductions of British and Dutch colonial maps against the backdrop of a galactic mural, immersive digital fabric prints of Hōkūleʻa and a Native American Three Sister Garden, an HMS Bounty ship model, a replica of a 17th century compass, and books that reference a history of oceanic exploration.
In the spirit of collaboration, this exhibition doubles as a lab activated by research and dialogue led by Lenape and Pacific scholars, culture bearers, and communities, to piece together the surviving historical fragments of land dispossession, dislocation, and diasporas. The findings will inform the creation of additional augmented and virtual reality experiences that will contribute to the envisioning and shaping of an Indigenous futurism.
November 2016 | Documentation of a walk-through of a VR experience | Collaboration between Beatrice Glow, Alexandre Girardeau and Jack Tchen and the A/P/A Institute at NYU
This is a documentation of an exploratory and interactive virtual reality experience as well as immersive oral history archive that brings together the past and present of one block of Broadway given Broadway is part of a matrix of Indigenous Lenape trails. This is developed through consultation with Lenape peoples, ecologists, educators and technologists. We ask ourselves how can we expand knowledge of Indigenous Manhattan? What does a sustainable Indigenous future look like?
Many thanks to Chief Vincent Mann, Turtle Clan Chief, Ramapough Luunape Nation for allowing us to 3D scan him for this project.