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Rachel Ward, 4 min., 2016

virtual reality (VR) for anthropologists

produced for the American Anthropological Association annual conference in 2016

Filming & Editing

Rachel M. Ward


Dianne Blell


pieces of syria.

In this experimental, multimodal documentary (containing HD video, archival photographs and interactive 360-degree VR content), I explore the potential of virtual reality for visual anthropology through the lens of three small broken glass vases. The pieces were purchased by Dianne Blell, a photographer, while on assignment in Syria two decades ago. I met Dianne in her New York studio as she was lamenting about the incidental breakage of the artifacts that she purchased in a now ruined area of Aleppo. I am filming her as she attempts to glue the pieces back together while she discusses her despondency over seeing the Syrian sites she once photographed destroyed by contemporary warfare. By supplementing the HD video footage with archival images and interactive 360-degree VR footage, I believe there is potential to create an immersive experience to demonstrate “broken,” “fractured” and “picking up the pieces” metaphors. This trailer was created to present at the Visual Research Conference (VRC) for the Society for Visual Anthropology at the American Anthropological Association annual conference in November 2016.

BEHIND THE SCENES: "Anthropologists try VR for the first time" (2 min)

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