360 video is a powerful technological tool that allows a viewer to experience a sense of place with interactivity. Viewers can scroll to show another viewpoint within a 360 degree video image. In a sense, this places Roberto Molina, a paraplegic athlete, at the centre of the frame with the world moving around him. This is a new, alternative, digital storytelling where the viewer can experience reality in a closer way by showing ‘the whole picture.’ This form of storytelling differs from traditional cinema’s fixed or sequential viewpoints.
In this project artist-researcher Sebnem Ozpeta asked the question “How can we use this technology to raise awareness of accessibility?” and “How can we make this tool more useful to improve public engagement and lead to some questions on accessibility?” Sebnem has worked as part of our research team since the first project.
Sebnem interviewed Roberto Molina, an immigrant from El Salvador who is paraplegic t7h8, and has a loss of use and feeling in his legs. Roberto shared his experience of being in a wheelchair while filming 360 video and by experimenting with perspective and point of view. In following this approach, they attempted to increase the audience’s understanding of particular situations that people who use mobility devices encounter in the City We Live In.
As arts organizations and artists learn more about accessibility and inclusion, we can work on ways for others to learn as we do. Sebnem’s collaboration with Roberto involved meeting to discuss the project, recording and editing the audio, the lengthy process of setting up a 360 video project, and processing the final 360 video. At first, Sebnem tried to record an empty street but could not avoid including her own image. When the location of the 360 camera shifted to Roberto in his chair, the resulting image was a better match for the soundscape.
In the future, we hope that our research will lead to city mapping projects involving 360 video. By artists and communities working together, we can map the barriers to accessibility for physically challenged people in the places where we live.