New spaces are opening for human expression and interaction. Socio-political and economic circumstances have restrained our physical movement but have enhanced a surge of previously unthinkable meeting spaces where art has started a different kind of thriving. Digital technologies are the enablers for this expansion, allowing connection through our screens. This new global connection offers us the opportunity to collaborate with artists from all over the world and bring our art to a worldwide audience.

Citizen 4 VR  is an opera held in a Virtual Reality environment. The audience can access this space through any computer screen connected to the internet, as it’s hosted in the platform Hubs by Mozilla, which runs in any browser. No Virtual Reality headset is needed to experience the opera; you can navigate it on the screen as you would in a video game. 

 

The virtual space becomes the stage. Instead of watching the story from the theater seat, the audience can go through the virtual space embodied as an avatar of their choosing, at some points becoming characters of the opera itself. On this journey, the public will traverse different opera acts to encounter the musicians, dancers, and actors telling the story. 

 

This opera tells the experiences of whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is named after the pseudonym Snowden used to communicate with the director and producer of documentaries Laura Poitras via encrypted emails. As Citizenfour, Snowden prepared Poitras to receive the classified documents and expose them to the world. 

 

A hero or a traitor, Snowden undisclosed digital information that was intended to be secluded. The significance and implications of the Snowden effect in culture and politics are undeniably present and mark a complex and pivotal point in our growth as a digital society. This work offers a space to reflect and raise questions about privacy and espionage and their impact on our relationship with digital media, our rights, and our responsibilities as citizens of cyberspace.

Alexandra Cárdenas

composer/programmer/improviser/live coder/algoraver

 

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