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People’s Palace goes on ‘virtual reality’ journey to Amazon’s Xingu people with Horniman Museum installation

PUBLISHED: 12:02 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:44 07 December 2018

Children in Amazonian village of Xingu using headset technology when Queen Mary researchers recorded their daily lives. Picture: Thiago Jesus

Children in Amazonian village of Xingu using headset technology when Queen Mary researchers recorded their daily lives. Picture: Thiago Jesus

Thiago Jesus

Researchers from Queen Mary University have helped create the Xingu Village installation taking visitors to the heart of Brazil’s native communities.

Kuikuro villager uses 21st century reality technology in the Xingu project. Picture: Thiago JesusKuikuro villager uses 21st century reality technology in the Xingu project. Picture: Thiago Jesus

The university’s People’s Palace Projects at Mile End has teamed up with the Horniman Museum in south London for an installation this weekend that gives visitors access to the Kuikuro community in the Amazon.

Visitors go on a virtual journey to Ipatse village to see the day to day life, environment and cultural practices of the Kuikuro’s 800 people living in the Xingu protected area, which is home to 16 indigenous tribes.

“We learn From the Xingu how arts and cultural practices preserve life and protect the global environment,” People’s Palace projects director Prof Paul Heritage explained.

“This international partnership project shows how immersive technologies create new connections between objects and people, revealing the stories we need to tell and to hear about the world around us.”

Another culture... tribesman resplendant in decorative native adornment. Picture: Elisa MendesAnother culture... tribesman resplendant in decorative native adornment. Picture: Elisa Mendes

The installation combining digital content with virtual ‘reality’ tools is the first of its kind, which involves indigenous peoples directly in a process that preserves and disseminates their social and cultural histories with non-contact technologies.

The project raises awareness of remote and fragile indigenous peoples without putting them at risk, whose way of life is beyond the reach of the world’s general population.

The 30-minute experience combines Queen Mary’s anthropological research with technology to bring to life a culture from the other side of the globe.

Horniman Museum’s Robert Storrie said: “Our gallery allows you to see different ways of living around the world through sounds and images.

Kuikuro tribemen on the Xingu River tributory of the Amazon. Picture: Thiago JesusKuikuro tribemen on the Xingu River tributory of the Amazon. Picture: Thiago Jesus

“But the ‘Xingu Village’ project takes a step further into an immersive encounter with the Kuikuro people’s everyday life.”

The installation is being staged next weekend, December 15 and 16, at the Horniman in London Road, Forest Hill, near Forest Hill Overground direct link from Whitechapel.

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