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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Xalon is an insurgence of the Xeno that resides within us. As Xalon, we reimagine alternative ways of remote togetherness and the ‘constructive oscillation between description and prescription to mobilize the recursive potential of contemporary technologies upon gender, sexuality and disparities of power’(Cuboniks, 0X07).

Xenofeminism seizes alienation as an impetus to generate new worlds that celebrate the ‘anti-natural’, ‘unfamiliar’ and ‘other’. Weaponizing alienation as a means to initiate care, Xalon is a community-building social XR experience that allows (non)members to form new kinship relationships through the entanglement of bodies, technologies, ideas, and space.It weaves together and makes tangible theoretical threads from Xenofeminism, Glitch Studies, and the Care Manifesto into an uncanny, shared space where (non)members can exchange experiences of alienation.

Inspired by Gertrude Stein’s Parisian salons as spaces for radical inclusivity, Xalon invites its (non)members to scan their personal ‘safe spaces’ and carry them into a physical pop-up location. Through an interactive web interface that regulates and transforms the Xalon experience, members can upload their ‘safe spaces’ into a virtual environment that morphs, compresses, and unites these into a shared realm. By stitching the digital and the physical together into a hybrid ecology, Xalon attempts to generate networks of belonging in reality-virtuality.

Using the medium as the message, Xalon is constantly evolving and growing in community and in methodology. While the social XR experience was originally conceptualized by an exquisite corpse gaming mechanism, it has now flourished in interdisciplinary ways through collaborations. Having participated and hosted in panel conversations and webinars for Ars Electronica 2021, Posthuman Symposium, the International Lecture Series at The Bartlett (Dec 2021), the Xalon Lecture Series at Interactive Architecture Lab (Jan – Mar 2022), Architecture Association Summer School Remote Togetherness Unit, Xalon is passionate to continue our endeavors and bring stimulating conversations on Unreal Engine for different higher education institutes on the future of extended reality.

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