Terminal 3, an AR experience released at Tribeca Film Festival, allows users to become a U.S. customs officer and to interrogate and determine the fate of Muslim travelers.
“I’m calling, very simply, for a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” said Donald Trump from the campaign trail. And as president, he did as he promised and implemented an executive order that would restrict travel from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
With Trump v. Hawaii, or the “travel ban” case, makes its way to Supreme Court proceedings in the coming weeks — the Supreme Court will rule on the authority of the executive order. The fate of Muslim travelers, refugees and even U.S. citizens has come in to question.
In an attempt peel back this complicated political landscape and return to a center point of common humanity, developer Asad Malik looked to AR as the answer.
Malik and his production company 1RIC released Terminal 3, which is one project encompassed within Malik’s larger mission of creating empathy focused virtual experiences he calls “cultural augmentation.”
“[Cultural augmentation] challenges people by forcing them to share presence with ideologies in humans that they otherwise wouldn’t cross paths with,” Malik said.
The holograms of travelers, which users see using a HoloLens, are fictional characters but their stories are inspired and created using real stories from Muslim travelers — including Malik.
“Terminal 3 was inspired very directly from my own experience of being interrogated regularly while traveling,” Malik said.
When Malik first visited the U.S. from his home in Pakistan, he was stopped by airport security and interrogated. He said an officer shouted at him in front of a room full of passengers to make sure he didn’t feel welcomed.
“Interrogations are interesting moments of an institutional power dynamic at play,” Malik said. “However if you strip the moment of it’s dehumanised context, you’re really just left with a human trying to engage with another human’s life story.”
Users lead the discussion with the AR holograms, who’s story is told with a complex branching narrative. They can ask questions both logistical and intimate.
“We couldn’t have told this story in any other medium than AR,” Malik said. “If you’re going to sit and talk to another human while you hear their story, it makes sense that you should feel their presence in real space.”
Terminal 3 premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last week, as one of 21 world premiere VR/AR exhibits at the festival. Like other film festivals such as Sundance and Kaleidoscope, Tribeca is embracing the new medium. Terminal 3 was created in collaboration with RYOT and Kaleidoscope.
“We are at a cultural crossroads. In times of crisis and contemplation, artists have always found a way to inspire and challenge,” said Tribeca Senior Programmer Loren Hammonds. “The creators that we’ve invited to take part in this year’s Tribeca Immersive are no different. They are using technology and storytelling to tackle subjects such as the dangers of nuclear weapons, racial and religious discrimination, and the real face of climate change. VR is a medium of transportation, and these pieces will do just that for our audience.”
Terminal 3 represents how much storytelling potential AR/VR wield, allowing people to not only connect with but be within experiences they may never otherwise.