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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Phantom is a narrative Virtual Reality experience based on the plotline of “overcoming the monster”, one of “Seven Basic Plots” by Christopher Booker (2004). The plotline is used to explore the judgment of bodies in modern society. Despite there being numerous standards of “beauty” across different cultures, a common denominator is a way in which our sense of self is tied to how our bodies are seen and judged.


In interacting with the world, the body’s sensorium gives rise to a wide array of emotions, feelings, thoughts, including how we feel about ourselves and our beauty. The design concept is to experience a shapeshifting body to question the sense of self. In the design process, Phantom experimented with body extensions and modifications, physical and virtual, to explore and challenge the boundary of the human body. The piece created manifests a VR world that allows users to overcome the monster of the self-and-society-driven judgment of body and self. In the VR experience, players travel on a route through a mysterious world and learn how to move a ‘new’ body with which they can explore different movements, ascend to the sky, and free their sense of self from being contained within society’s view of bodies and self.