© 2020 by Sean Stillwell

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. 1 of 9.


At the Gray Area Exhibition, the installation reacted to a participant entering the room and sitting 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 message would be radio telescoped off planet into the cosmos. When the participants finished speaking the recordings 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 files 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 (Communication Portal) is to shift the relationship between an art object and a viewer to that of an interactive framework and participant. The viewer is given agency while maintaining anonymity, a voice to say whatever they want to whomever they want that is accessible to anyone and everyone, while also maintaining confidentiality if desired. This allows participants to express themselves without fear of judgement or reprisal while also allowing for catharsis and encouraging empathy in hearing our common fears, anger, pain, sorrow, desire, and joy; the entire gambit of human emotion that we all uniquely experience. Furthermore, the participants' messages are to be radio telescoped off planet, in a sense, democratizing the voice of humanity originally conceptualized by the Voyager space probe and it's Golden Record.