portalis de communicatio
-Gray Area Artist Residency-
in collaboration with Austin Hou & Scott Riggs

10'-0" x 10'-0" x 2'-8" interactive scale model and virtual reality experience of the future Burning Man installation (2022) developed for Gray Area's Artist Residency Program. PDC us made of laser cut plywood, acrylic, LED's, proximity sensors, headphones, VR goggles, a microphone, arduino, and raspberry pi.


At the Gray Area Exhibition, the installation reacted to participants entering the room and sitting down in front of it by initiating an audio recording. While experiencing the VR representation of the final, full scale Burning Man installation, the participants could leave messages with the understanding that their recordings would be radio telescoped off planet into the cosmos. When the participants finished speaking the messages were filed in an online database that played on a continuous loop outside the room where PDC was installed. The audio files were filtered so that the voices on the recordings were unrecognizable. Listening to the previously recorded audio gave waiting participants examples to help them decide who they might want to leave messages for and/or what they may want to convey.

The ongoing, ever evolving goal of Portalis De Communicatio is to shift the relationship between an art object and a viewer to that of an interactive framework and participant. The participant is has agency while maintaining anonymity. They are given a platform to say whatever they want to whomever they want, accessible to anyone and everyone, while maintaining confidentiality. This allows participants to express themselves without fear of judgement or reprisal. This encourages catharsis and even empathy in hearing our common fears, anger, pain, sorrow, desire, and joy; the entire gambit of human emotion that we all uniquely experience. By transmitting these messages off planet, PDC is also democratizing the voice of humanity originally conceptualized by the Voyager space probe and it's Golden Record.

© 2020 by Sean Stillwell