I still don’t know if having kids will ever be in the cards for me—I’m cynical, hate the idea of housing a thing for nine months, and would be a bad parent, probably—but if there were a virtual reality experience to ever give pregnancy a test run, I’d probably try it out. Luckily, thanks to artists Jeremy Bailey and Kristen D. Schaffer, now there is one.
simulate rubbing your protruding fetus-carrying belly in VR
Solicited by the Toronto gallery Trinity Square Video, the couple embarked on creating a piece for VR. According to an interview The Creators Project, the project spawned from a real life desire between the couple to have a baby one day, but the problems that inherently arise in those difficult conversations. “I don’t want to get pregnant and he does, so we did this,” Schaffer said.
Preterna, the name of the pregnancy simulator, uses Leap Motion sensors mounted onto headsets so that users can simulate rubbing their protruding fetus-carrying belly in VR. Using photogrammetry, Schaffer herself was 3D scanned for Preterna. Pregnant belly added in post, of course.
Despite making the project jointly, both Schaffer and Bailey might have different motives. “My husband is the ultimate satirist, while I’m coming at things from a more educative standpoint,” Shaffer explained. She hopes Preterna will inspire others to what VR can do, beyond the bore of incessant videogames or 360-degree documentaries. And who knows, maybe trying out a VR pregnancy simulator will keep family members from harping on me to put a bun in the oven as soon as humanly possible. A girl can hope.
Eventually, Bailey intends to create a website and offer a collection of anthology experiences for Preterna, but in the meantime you can follow the project on Bailey’s personal website and Twitter. Preterna will preview on November 19 at Sub Chroma 2016 in Chicago, and fully premieres at Trinity Square Video in Fall 2017.