DEPROGRAMMED VR (2016)
DEPROGRAMMED VR invites the user on a virtual walk through the mental landscape of cult indoctrination and deprogramming. Step by step, you journey further into an immersive environment that contextualizes the experiences and recollections of a former member of the Unification Church, a skinhead and a jihadist. They are your guides as they explain in their own words how brainwashing and group pressure made them adopt extremist ideologies. Mia Donovan restricts the viewer’s gaze, as a visual metaphor for the limited freedom experienced by the guides; you are confined to a virtual landscape that changes as you drift ever further into indoctrination. Virtual experiences usually invite spatial exploration, but the limited interactive elements in DEPROGRAMMED VR reflects the narrow path the victims were forced to walk. The aim of this meditative and somehow immobilizing journey is to convey a human perspective on the victims’ experiences. How did they fall victim to indoctrination as adolescents, and how did they find their way back?