“Nothing is fixed in our metaverse”: Keiken proves that anything is possible in its virtual, cinematic world
Founded by Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori and Isabel Ramos, the collaborative practice returns with a host of interactive games and CGI films.
- Ayla Angelos
- 21 June 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Ever since Keiken first formed its practice, the team – comprising founding members Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori and Isabel Ramos, split between London and Berlin – has continued to alter our perceptions of what’s real. “From the very beginning of our collaborative practice,” Tanya tells It’s Nice That, “we have always aimed to push the boundaries of what our understanding of reality actually is.” World-building, in this sense, takes centre stage throughout the entirety of the studio’s endeavours, whether that’s through an interactive film reimagining life as we know it, a “multi-dimensional” game, or various other CGI creations and experiments with AR, VR, film and performance.
We last caught up with the practice in 2019, where its founders ran us through the collaboration with London-based CGI artist George Jasper Stone for Feel My Metaverse, a fictional and cinematic world built using the game development software, Unreal Engine 4. “We have definitely gone deeper into the metaverse since we last spoke,” explains Hana of the key updates, which includes bringing speculative technologies from this metaverse into real-life scenarios. “The one we are working on right now is a haptic wearable womb, that allows the wearers to have embodied experiences from our metaverse.” Besides placing these digital intonations into the physical sphere, Keiken has also been expanding on its digital skillset; the team are self-taught, after all, and thus strive to become “the architects” of their own metaverse.
Within this metaverse, Keiken has also developed its own set of metaphors to best describe the studio’s output and goals which are built on community and collaboration. For example, Hana is the seed, “as she likes to plant ideas and find the right soil,” says Isabel; meanwhile Tanya is the stem, “as she likes to water the seed and consistently nurture it for it to grow with strength an stability”; and Isabel is the flower, “as she loves to make sure the flower is as beautiful as possible and reflect on it in the sunlight.” They work in synchronicity to build virtual environments – the metaverse – and a place in which landscapes, ideas and stories are formed that couldn’t have been achieved in the real world. “Collaboratively in our metaverse, we simulate new structures and ways of existing, creating and imagining our own emancipatory technologies, as well as exploring consequences fictitiously,” says Tanya. “Our metaverse is a safe and open space where we encourage playing, dialectic thinking and future forecasting.”
This is very much the case in the studio’s latest offering, an immersive game named Wisdoms for Love 3.0. Devised initially as a five-channel immersive installation called Metaverse: we are at the end of something, made with Ryan Vautier, Sakeema Crook and Khidja last year, the studio decided to release the work as a free online crypto game in collaboration with obso1337. In this game, users are invited into the metaverse and are encouraged to collect free wisdom tokens and collectable posters, all the while galavanting through this digital world where the pace has slowed down slightly and positive affirmations are the norm. There’s also a total of 81 free artworks, alongside a “moral contract”, multiplayer functions and an unlockable bonus level. “It proposes new ways of ramifying how you experience art,” adds Hana. “It also places morality and wisdom as a form of currency, to speculate how this could be applied to the blockchain and Web 3.0.”
As such, the game “contemplates bubbled-up feelings, beliefs and the collective consciousness of the contemporary moment,” she adds. “It is riddled with decisions where you must decide your fate; do you take the path of the Divine Mother, become a Human God or stay on your moral high horse?” And besides the more humanistic interrogatory side of things, Wisdoms for Love 3.0 is also available in Somnium Space, an open-source social VR world powered by blockchain and shaped by its users. 5,000 free NFTs are available as part of a “physical and digital scavenger hunt,” adds Isabel, and it can be accessed through a portal in the virtual world of Crypto Voxels, made in collaboration with Malik Paris, as part of Proof of Art, The History of NFTs in Francisco Carolinum Museum in Linz, Austria.
Elsewhere, Keiken has also built a series called The Life Game, a cinematic experience that follows the protagonist ME, who also has a digital twin named MI, “exploring their whirlwind relationship and them trying to find themselves in the metaverse,” says Tanya. Again centring the narrative on the basis of this metaverse, where quite literally anything is possible, the game has three episodes so far: Viral Energy is episode one, an interactive film made with obso1337; Battle of Reality and Dream Time Life Simulation are the other two films, all made in collaboration with Khidja.
In characteristic Keiken style, the work itself is immensely crafted and shatters all previous understandings of realism – leaving us to question, what can’t be achieved in this metaverse? “Nothing is fixed in our metaverse,” concludes Hana, “and everything is malleable. We embrace otherness and transformation is our safe space. So we hope that our audiences get to feel this in their own way, in some form or another.”
Keiken: Wisdoms for Love 3.0 (Copyright © Keiken, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.