The Spirit Phone 2.0 was born out of CalArts in the Integrated Media program. The project has been funded by an Interdisciplinary Grant and will be presented in its final form on June 20th.
The Spirit Phone 2.0 is an exploration of the personal, spiritualism, and narrative while acting as a continuation of the work done by Thomas Edison in the 1920s. Thomas Edison proposed the idea of a Spirit Phone originally. It was going to be a phone that would allow people to communicate with their loved ones from beyond the grave. This invention was proposed during the height of spiritualism, a religion that believes that when people die, they become spirits and can continue to communicate with the living through people like mediums. Thomas Edison believed that when people die, their memories and personality were split into tiny particles, like atoms, and if one were able to collect enough of these particles - they’d be able to communicate with the dead from beyond the grave. Thomas Edison never completed the invention before his death, so we have taken up the calling to explore how our phones can communicate with those who have passed.
What we are interested in by using Augmented Reality is the exploration of physical space. What does it mean to have an AR experience in our homes? How do we fully engage with these spaces to have a range of activities?
We believe there is a connection between the digital realm and the physical realm in a way that feels similar to the spiritual realm and the physical realm. Both the spiritual and digital lack physicality but can communicate something the physical can’t. For years, advancements in technology, especially telecommunications, happened in direct relationship to the growth of spiritualism. We wouldn’t have things like the cathode ray tube and the radio if it weren't for the work of scientists trying to communicate with the dead. The digital and spiritual are inherently linked in history and this project hopes to further explore that relationship.
This augmented experience is a search for the spiritual through the digital. It feels deeply connected to Edison’s original intent of reaching the spiritual through the technology of the time.
The use of Augmented Reality allows users to uncover the memories of different ghosts all trying to contact the realm of the living. The user will experience three of the ghost's memories and engage with space differently each time. At the end of the experience, they will receive a phone call from the ghost.
The full experience will be available to play on June 20th on the App Store and Google Play store.