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An Oculus Rift art exhibit shows wearers what it's like to swap bodies

An Oculus Rift art exhibit shows wearers what it's like to swap bodies

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Roughly a quarter of all ASP users are unable to comfortably assimilate the subjective body picture of the opposite sex. Over the years some broadcast ASP stars have become increasingly androgynous in an attempt to capture this segment of the audience.

- William Gibson, "Fragments of a Hologram Rose"

Long-running performance art installation The Machine to be Another is a literal, perhaps radical take on the Oculus Rift's promise to let you simulate being anywhere or anyone. In what the artists call the "gender swap" experiment, two people stand in a room, each wearing a Rift headset. They agree on and synchronize their movements, rubbing hands over stomachs or taking off shoes. But while they feel their own bodies, they "see" out of each other's eyes. The most dramatic examples are men and women looking at themselves as another gender, but body size and build seem disorienting as well: what's it like for a tall, heavy man to become slight, and vice versa? Several other experiments, which appear more explicitly about performing and spectating, are explained on the project site, and the creators hope the idea can create an empathetic relationship between participants and, eventually, have therapeutic uses. For now, though, the video below (which may be NSFW for some nudity) is an artistic example of how something like Sex with Glass can be done right.