Our Digital Selves by Draxtor Despres

Our Digital Selves by Draxtor Despres

Our Digital Selves is a full feature film by Draxtor Despres, available for free on his YouTube channel. It is a Drax Files special documentary about disability and embodiment in virtual worlds. He not only focuses on residents in Second Life, but Sansar, High Fidelity and other virtual reality worlds, with guest appearances from Ebbe Altberg and Philip Rosedale.

It’s a wonderful film with a compassionate look at residents with mental and physical disabilities and how virtual worlds enhance their real and virtual lives.

It was first previewed at a Congressional Briefing on Disability, Mental Health, and Virtual Worlds on May 9th. Now it is available on Draxtor’s YouTube channel, you can watch it at this link: https://youtu.be/GQw02-me0W4

Here is a press release with a little description of the film by Draxtor:

“Our Digital Selves: My Avatar is me!” tells the story of 13 global citizens and their avatars as they transcend their various disabilities through artistic expression and making a home for in the VR Metaverse.

Filmmaker Bernhard Drax travels from California to rural South England to explore why a diverse group of people ranging from 24 to 92 years of age find solace, inspiration and deep friendship that in a user-created digital wonderland that only exists inside their computers.

Drax sends his intrepid documentarian avatar Draxtor Despres into the virtual universes of Second Life as well as next generation VR platforms like High Fidelity and Sansar and – among many other adventures – he finds out why a 40-something Chicago native feels best represented by a colorful gecko complete with superhero cape or why Cody LaScala – confined to a wheelchair his entire life – feels his avatar should look exactly like him.

The film follows researchers Tom Boellstorff and Donna Davis as they lead discussion groups and facilitate deep connection between real human beings in virtuality. We follow along as they travel to Silicon Valley to find out how the leading technologists design the future with disability in mind.

As Boellstorff and Davis finish up their 3-year study made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation [entitled “Virtual Worlds, Disability and New Cultures of the Embodied Self”], the film comes as a compressed compendium and visual guide to a seemingly unlimited array of possibilities for borderless human interaction.

Unique in its narrative approach, “Our Digital Selves” weaves together physical and virtual cinematography as the protagonists’ backstories are re-enacted via Machinima technique – real time animation – in the virtual world and in next generation VR platforms.

The film will be available for free on YouTube on May 18th and has been submitted to film festivals around the world for the 2019 season.

Here are links to other blog posts about this film:

I hope you guys enjoy the film as much as I did. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts about the film in the comments of the video and support our virtual communities. <3

Both of the images in this post that I uploaded to my Flickr and my Instagram are promos provided by Draxtor.

5 thoughts on “Our Digital Selves by Draxtor Despres

  1. […] to Strawberry Singh’s post about this wonderful documentary by Draxtor Despres I had decided to watch it today to check out […]

  2. I loved this, it covers a lot of situations of people on here. Even those that do not talk about it often, like me.

    I started out on Second Life, not disabled.. April 2009. I started to lose a lot of weight, I got healthy, I was hiking a lot, I spent lots of time on SL too. But 2.5 years ago I ended up in a wheelchair and unable to work anymore. So, due to all my situations going on besides just the wheelchair, SL has kept me distracted from all the painful part of my situation. I stay productive, since I can’t work in RL at the moment (hopefully soon in some way though). I help friends with managing their avatar creations and other creations, as well as blogging for myself (yes my typing is super bad today sorry, tired.. I have excuses!). SL helps mentally because physical disability in some ways can really hurt you mentally and emotionally.

    I hate the other side of things. I don’t talk about my situation much except with a few super close trusted friends. I rather just not think about it on SL. However, I see a LOT of people that look down on anyone that may not have money to spend because you get very little money when you are on disability, even some well known creators (I wont mention). How people who can’t afford it should stay off, people who are disabled are almost unwelcome in the full world. I’ve seen it a lot more since I’ve became wheelchair bound than before. It’s frustrating and such to see so much looking down on others. It’s gotten worse in the last couple years. I wish SL was like it used to be, more open, more welcoming, less hateful and abusive ways towards people who are disabled.

    Since I am in the furry community MOSTLY, I see a lot of autism, a lot of disabilities and how their avatars help them feel better as a person. Just wish more were accepting of it and understanding of situations. SL used to be open to everyone, in all situations, in all abilities.

    This was a great video though. Love it

  3. ElSolLaLuna says:

    I too am disabled but that does not have a thing to do with my second life though I am very aware of how sl does benefit those who are. My sl handicap is time. My time in world is the opposite as those in the USA so making friends is very hard these days. my rl disability is 2 fold, one mental health and 2 memory, a learning disability. I find that the ability to have a record of my conversations via text helps me a lot in world. in the outer world I am expected to recall things which are impossible, like a persons name but with the names always there for me to see in sl it helps me to remember my sl friends names,then there is the stored chat to look back on this is also helpful for establishing good friendships which are almost impossible in the real world. Thanks for this Drax!!! I appreciate how the disabled can become less disabled if they want to in sl or can choose to be an extension of their disabled selves if they choose to. We in sl can create the needed reality for our real life survival outside sl just by being in sl.

  4. Digital era allows us to create unbelievable shots easily and seamlessly.

  5. i’ve dealt with mental disabilites for 19 yrs then 10 months ago i had a fall and they dunno what happened with me and i’m now physically disabled…wheelchair with walker…40 yrs old and dealing with this well”drama” in my life…that’s what people i meet in sl or even rl call it all, “drama”…they not want to deal with it…i have deal with it day and nite like forever most likely…sorry i going on a tangent…anyway what i trying to say is that this documentary film should show that even my type of situation should be more accepting…however it’s not…sl is a super lonely place now…of course i’m a unique avatar…as RavenSkye above commented above said is that it’s just how things are now…SL used to be different…i do appreciate this film that it shed light on how life is for us…i do want to say that Sansar will not work for someone like me…i have neurological issues…blessed be

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