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Couples use virtual reality to switch genders temporarily

Photo credit: Geekologie
Photo credit: Geekologie
Photo credit: Geekologie

Recently an art installation called “The Machine To Be Another” created a gender swap experiment using the Oculus Rift system. Usually the Oculus Rift system is used to enhance virtual reality and produce a first-person perspective in video games, but this time the system was used to temporarily swap genders.

The gender swap experiment uses oculus rift embodiment technique, performance and first-person perspective. Using immersive head mounted display and first-person cameras (Oculus Rift), the two users from different genders have their point of views switched. However, each action must be synchronised and constantly agreed by both users in order to successfully swap genders.

The test subjects of the experiment included several couples of different ages and body sizes. The aim of the exhibition was to challenge the perceptions of self by putting opposite genders in first-person perspective and viewing body and self from an objective view. Usually people have a subject view of their self and bodies, but with this experiment they can gain new insight and theories on the topic of self, gender and body.

Other than the experience of becoming the opposite gender, the test subject can also gain a perspective on the difference in height, skin colour and body parts. At the moment the simulation is still in its initial stages of testing, therefore it is not as smooth or realistic - further testing and improvements need to be conducted in order to perfect the simulation of gender swap.