Digitizing Detours is a VR experience that allows users to explore stories from the book Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai'i, edited by Hōkūlani K. Aikau and Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, in a virtual environment. 
Many people first encounter Hawai‘i through the imagination—a postcard picture of hula girls, lu‘aus, and plenty of sun, surf, and sea. While Hawai‘i is indeed beautiful, Native Hawaiians struggle with the problems brought about by colonialism, military occupation, tourism, food insecurity, high costs of living, and climate change. In this brilliant reinvention of the travel guide, artists, activists, and scholars redirect readers from the fantasy of Hawai‘i as a tropical paradise and tourist destination toward a multilayered and holistic engagement with Hawai‘i's culture and complex history. The essays, stories, artworks, maps, and tour itineraries in Detours create decolonial narratives in ways that will forever change how readers think about and move throughout Hawai‘i.
This project explores how the typical affordances of virtual reality can be used by a user to explore a place and its stories through various types of interactions and media (audio, video, images, etc.). Media within the prototype was collected on site through a 360 camera and was used to create an environment for the user to explore. The main research question is: How does the perception of presence within a virtual environment affect a user’s understanding and feelings of a place within a virtual environment? The prototype that was developed on the HTC Vive features Keawanui Fishpond on the island of Moloka'i, Hawai'i.
Jolie Ching is my fellow collaborator on this project. Work on the project is currently on hiatus due to COVID-19.
A presentation of this project was accepted into NAISA 2020. The conference was cancelled due to COVID-19
Mahalo to the kia'i of Keawanui Fishpond for allowing us to film on site to create this prototype. If you are interested in learning more or supporting Hui o Kuapa, the non-profit that cares for Keawanui Fishpond, please visit: https://huiokuapa.org/

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