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  AQUAPHOBIA  Format: Full room-scale VR Year: 2017 Direction, production, art and sound by Jakob Kudsk Steensen Text by Jakob Kudsk Steensen Narration by Rindon Johnson   AQUAPHOBIA    uses VR to connect inner psychological landscapes with exterior eco-systems. The work is inspired by psychological studies of the treatment of aqua phobia – fear of water- as an entry point to transform perceptions of our relationship to future water levels and climates. You follow a water microbe guiding you through five stages of a breakup story, mixed with references to five steps patients treated for fear of water go through, and five parts of a virtual replica of Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier in Redhook, Brooklyn, from subterranean mud tunnels to a bridge extending over future rising waters.  The virtual landscape combines red-clay materials with pre- urban plant species in Brooklyn and futuristic settings. The virtual landscape is developed from satellite images and soil and rock types Jakob Kudsk Steensen collected and photographed in his studio, later to be used as digital textures in the virtual world of AQUAPHOBIA. While journeying through the landscape, mud, water, subterranean infrastructures, roots and plants intertwine with one another to form a symbiotic landscape the person visiting the virtual simulation of AQUAPHOBIA experiences.  While travelling through the landscape, an alien morphing aquatic entity follows you around and emit scuba diving sounds and recites a poem, which tell a breakup story between the landscape and its virtual visitor. Ultimately, AQUAPHOBIA uses VR to mixes past and future geological periods, and the work personifies a landscape through a break-up story.   Narration in AQUAPHOBIA:   "After the breakup you compartmentalized our relationship beyond exhibitionist plastic glass, you stored images of us on a remote subterranean server. But I broke free. My microscopic wet materials spread like a virus, infiltrating the digital storage units you used to access us from. The wires are warm with me. We reset the power structure of our relationship. I gain control.  Direct your eyes downwards, further, towards your feet. You have sunken, about an inch into the mud. Wiggle your toes. Most of you is water. Feel the water in the mud, leaching through the permeable barrier of your shoes, towards your thin porous skin, sink further, my liquid enters the inner workings of your body's system.  I don’t understand why you insist on digging in our mutual past. We were many things but we never mutually  exclusive. The items you threw out the window in anger of my promiscuous practices will continue to descend slowly, into my red clay mud. You think you are not of me but you are of me. On this peninsula always present, beneath the concrete you paved. You were never in charge.  The reality of my physical past, looks and configuration were always present, even though you attempted to hide them through what you call a cultivation processes. My cat tails, red clay, steam and humid were always, looming beneath your nose when we coexisted. Ours is a particular circumstance. Me, but submitting to you, was only an imagination, a virtual reality and fantasy of yours. We are not equals.  Learning the math behind my rhythmic behavior make you dance in excitement. Hop in. Head first. Learn the cadence of my movements, animate them, score them. Through the rhythm of my waves, we can learn to move in tandem. Together. Apart. Close your eyes and feel the mass of my droplets slide across body hair, over eyelids. Learn to swim."   Text  by Jakob Kudsk Steensen, narrated by artist Rindon Johnson in AQUAPHOBIA.  Support  for the development of AQUAPHOBIA comes from The Danish Arts Council, Acute Art and NYC Office of Cultural Affairs.
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