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Gayatri Khemka

Virtually There: The Future of Human Relationship Building in the Metaverse

Human relationship building is an incredibly rich and significant part of our lives and is the basis upon which we have developed as a society. Our communication is made up of both verbal and non-verbal cues, which allow us to understand others in a nuanced and cohesive way. In an increasingly digital world, it is incredibly important to consider how visually-mediated non-verbal cues can be translated into technologically-mediated communication, and the implications of technology mediated communication on our social interactions. The written portion of my thesis conducts a deep dive into four main non-verbal methods of communication - face perception, mutual gaze, mimicry, and joint attention - in order to gauge which aspects of in-person interaction are essential for robust social experiences. In it, I argue that Virtual Reality is the key to creating immersive and complete social interaction that can serve as adequate substitutes for in-person interaction or perhaps even expand our ideas of what makes an ideal social interaction. In my visual component, I wanted to explore how technology distorts our perceptions of people. It consists of a series of short videos that were made by repeatedly layering the same filters. The videos become more and less uncanny at different paces. The planned effect of this is to exaggerate the effect technology has on how we perceive other people.

Elizabeth Johnson (WHAR)

Gregory Vershbow (VLST)