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Ijiam: Augmented Reality Technologies for the Adaptation of Ecuadorian Intangible Cultural Heritage

Ijiam is an interactive installation which I developed for my Master Degree thesis project in OCAD University. The project explores the use of motion sensing technologies and computer generated visuals for the development of an immersive storytelling experience based on indigenous ancestral knowledge.

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This project uses digital technologies to create critical adaptations of ancestral wisdom from the Shuar indigenous community of the Ecuadorian Amazon, transposing relevant concepts of their cosmovision into a new digital storytelling experience. Following a post-colonial ethnographic research approach, this thesis employs decolonizing methods to analyze the complex knowledge system of the Shuar culture, engaging the community through a communication protocol of reciprocity and fair exchange of knowledge. The outcome of this project is an interactive digital installation that allows participants in the Shuar community and elsewhere to embody an audiovisual experience based on Shuar ancestral wisdom.

The narrative for this project involves adapting concepts from the Shuar cosmovision through the elements of the Uwi Ijiamtamu or Fiesta de la chonta celebration which required an analysis that balanced elements from the traditional stories and the main components of the ritual into an audiovisual experience.

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Digital particle systems were developed using Unity 3D and Kinect SDK to track participant’s motion with the visual abstractions to recreate a visual representation of this indigenous ritual. Sounds of rainforest environments, musical instruments such as guitars and pan flutes were used as ambient sounds, while specific chants and narrations on Shuar language were incorporated at specific times during the interaction.

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