COLLATERAL ECHOES VR
Baff Akoto, Lidz-Ama Appiah, Luke W Moody / United Kingdom, Ireland / 2023
Collateral Echoes is a new VR artwork concerned with the disproportionate instances of Black and Immigrant Britons who have died at the hands of the police since records began in 1969.
Through sensorial renderings of archival images, artefacts and oral testimonies from those bereaved, this work questions how personal memories might be experienced as collective commemoration.
This project is a Virtual Reality artwork which blurs the boundaries between expanded cinema and immersive technology. The concept and form of this artwork combine to create living breathing portraits of people who have been killed – the result of long term dialogue, and creative exchange with relatives who have survived them. The depiction of these absent subjects is the result of conversations with those who survived the violent, tragic and state-initiated deaths of their mothers, sons and siblings.
A selection of archival images, artefacts and oral testimonies provided by the survivors of 12 people killed after police contact will take an audience beyond the statistics, inquests and miscarriages of justice to build a human, poignant and esoteric commemoration of the lives and memories behind the names of those who have been killed in this way. What does it mean when recurring themes around mental health, the immigrant experience and racial justice are constantly present throughout the recollections in this work. The audience will experience this artwork as a Virtual Reality experience with digitally rendered environments, and 2D archival video with immersive sound design. This will tour as an installation, a location-based experience, and be distributed as a standalone VR artwork.
Artistically our aim with this work is to help audiences move beyond questionable police testimony, discredited coroners’ reports, reductive news packages and dismaying inquest verdicts and instead focus their intimate attention on the humanity, potential and personalities of those killed after police contact in the UK. A VR memorial for the digital era commemorating those no longer with us.
The deployment of lethal force by agents of the state both internationally (Putin in Ukraine) and internally (police killings in Tottenham or police shootings in Stockwell) has never been under more scrutiny. The de facto postcolonial understanding that state “might is right” is undergoing an unprecedented kicking in the public global consciousness in a post George Floyd world. With a disproportionate number of those killed in the UK hailing from Black and immigrant communities, this artwork provokes questions around how power is wielded, by whom and questions if all British lives are equally valued by this state we all call home.