W|E – Narrating the Berlin Wall in VR

Virtual Reality Prototype for the
MIT Media Lab Berlin workshop 2018

August 2018

BACKGROUND

The MIT Media Lab workshops are a week-long prototyping workshops, in which researchers and students collaborate in small teams in order to explore the disruptive and creative potential of cutting-edge technologies.

I was invited to participate in the 2018 installment of the workshop in Berlin, as a member of the workshop-track VR/AR-based learning experiences. In this track, we worked with the latest in 3D capture technology (photogrammetry, point clouds, volumetric video) as novel means for experiencing and teaching history.

Using Virtual and Augmented Reality, we can immerse ourselves in current or historic virtual places. This creates new insights into historical circumstances, increases our awareness of the local context, and deepens our understanding of culture and history. Whether in the context of higher education, museums, or public service campaigns, this creates powerful new ways to learn.

Our Project

The key elements of our project are first-hand accounts from people who escaped East Germany by illegally crossing the Berlin Wall or who helped others to escape the divided city. Through a series of interviews, our team uncovered personal stories of the witnesses, which we captured in volumetric video format.

The testimonies we combined with virtual assets to create rich scenes for the virtual reality medium, retelling stories of decisiveness and bravery, such as the one by Joachim Rudolph, who fled East Germany by crossing over the “green border” in the middle of the night.