Mannahatta VR ft. Beatrice Glow and Alexandre Girardeau


When I was packing for my trip to New York last January I put my clothes in my suitcase but decided that my SD Card containing the latest version of 'Big City Nights' stayed in my pocket, you know just in case the airport lost my luggage.  (SPOILER ALERT).

After settling in my AirBnB, I received a text from 'Boulder Haze,' inviting me to his home. I had never met Boulder but he was the reason I was in the Big Apple showing off art in the first place. I took the Metro out towards Queens and grabbed a few beers from a corner store so I wouldn't show up empty handed. When I finally arrived at his home, I'm greeted by a good hearted smile.

Boulder, also known as Alecz, speaks with a french accent and shows me into his kitchen where a projector is looping video clips of various VR art works (mine included). There is another projector on the table along with a wall full of notes, articles and artwork. Over the next few hours we eat, decompress and engage in deep philosophical conversations about culture, tech and the future of everything. There was more than one time where I felt that I was exactly where I needed to be, engaging with other artists who are at the cutting edge of conceptual arts.

I'd like to share a project they teamed up on called Mannahatta, a phenomenal work leveraging hundreds of hours of research to fight erasure and shift narratives. Below is information from Beatrice's website where you can learn more about her and her projects. When we last talked about a week ago she was packing for her trip to Ecuador where she will focus on Social Inclusion thanks to Zero1 American Arts Incubator, learn more about that here.

The rest of the information below is from her website.

Alecz...aka Boulder is the curator of VR Animations at the monthly event ANNY and founder of Highway 101 Etc, a VR centric hub based in NYC.


About Mannahatta VR: Envisioning Lenapeway 

Long before Henry Hudson’s arrival in 1609, Manhattan or Manaháhtaan, as originally named by the Indigenous Lenape people, was a place of gathering and exchange amongst diverse nations. Today, Broadway runs along a portion of the original matrix of trails that connected Manaháhtaan to the broader northeast region and the Great Lakes. Artist Beatrice Glow and The Wayfinding Project at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University partnered with Alecz Inca of Highway 101, ETC (Experiential Tech Community) to build Mannahatta VR, an interactive virtual reality experience which brings together the past and present of one Broadway block.

This ongoing project is growing through conversations with Native culture bearers, ecologists, artists, educators and technologists. In the process, we ask ourselves how can we expand knowledge of Indigenous Manhattan? What does a sustainable Indigenous future look like?  How do we ethically create a historically palpable digital storytelling experience? We approach the virtual reality experience not as a final product, but a platform for our collective envisioning that has the potential to evolve into an immersive oral history archive.

Mannahatta VR was a supplement to Lenapeway, an installation that was on 24-hour view in the street-level windows of 715 Broadway (at Washington Place) from October 10, 2016 (Indigenous Peoples’ Day) to December 9, 2016. The location of the installation, which was viewable from the sidewalk 24/7 and was cosponsored by NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the A/P/A Institute, marks the intersection of the main Lenape trail and a side-trail that traverses through present-day Washington Square Park.

As an artist and multisensory storyteller, I leverage sculptural installations, experiential technology collaborations, olfactory art and participatory performances to shift dominant narratives. Standing between diaspora and indigeneity, I navigate the oceanic, cultural and trade circulations between Asia, the Americas and Europe. My research-based process allows me to co-labor with scholars, scientists and community stakeholders to assemble surviving fragments in service of public history. I borrow the transporting power of smell to retain evaporating memory and fight erasure.