Kristine is Not Well is a 20-minute animated VR social media simulation that highlights the resistance of online activists against algorithmic surveillance and censorship. FIVARS had a chance to speak with director Seeyam Quine.
What led to the creation of this piece?
Inner 12-year-old version: Chinese people have been fighting against AI & algorithmic surveillance for years. It’s badass and creative, and more people should know about it!
Adult version: Kristine is Not Well is a 20-minute animated VR social media simulation highlighting online activists’ resistance against algorithmic surveillance and censorship. Inspired by events from early 2020, this piece captures the tenacity of Chinese Internet users who reposted COVID news in myriad formats to bypass the information crackdown, informing others about the unfolding epidemic.
We were highly impressed by the creativity in Chinese people’s protest for the freedom of speech. As our research expanded, we realized similar demonstrations can be found in many other parts of the world. In light of increasing automated surveillance and control everywhere, we want to use Kristine Is Not Well to celebrate humanity’s resilience and creativity in fighting back against algorithmic oppression.
What was the production process for you and your team? What did you learn?
The project was developed using Unity and Houdini. We employed particle effects to craft a VR avatar composed of tweets, visualizing the convergence of diverse online communities rallying together for a common cause through their social media posts.
How did you become an immersive media content creator and why?
We believe in civic duties – individuals are responsible for contributing to their community to make it a better place. In the backstory of Kristine Is Not Well, Chinese netizens used their unique language skills to translate COVID news to fight against government censorship.
As Chinese VR developers, we recognize our unique position. We’re armed with the expertise of immersive storytelling, and we see it as our duty to employ this skill in advocating for a brighter future for our community.
What do you have planned for the future?
I always find a lot of strength and hope watching videos of people protesting for their rights and fighting for democracy. I am committed to recreating these moments in VR and spreading hope to the audience.
Do you think VR festivals like FIVARS are important?
FIVARS and other festivals are more than important to indie VR creators! With the current VR content discovery system tightly controlled by Meta and its app store, VR festivals like FIVARS are the most important (if not the only) way for indie VR storytelling pieces to find their audience. We appreciate all the festivals for showcasing our work.