Omoiyari: Keiken X Gabriel Massan

20 May-31 Aug 2022


Omoiyari by Keiken X Gabriel Massan is the first commission of Open Space – an Augmented Reality (AR) initiative developed for Soho Photography Quarter, a new public art space in the immediate surroundings of The Photographers’ Gallery.

Omoiyari, the Japanese word for compassion, comprises a series of posters and an interactive AR filter. The series documents a range of otherworldly avatars, with each poster acting as a portrait encapsulating a fragment of time, capturing each avatar in a freeze frame mid-motion. 

Audiences will meet U-Mi Water warrior, who is beginning to comprehend their fractal responsibility in the realisation that ‘my mind spreads out beyond my body as fields’; Tolmi, the word for ‘help’ in the indigenous Mexican language Téneek, an avatar with a strong exterior who reveals their soft vulnerable interior as they wish they could communicate their internal land to you; Uxkme, the Téneek word for ‘old woman’, a fragile avatar trapped in a thick gel of time: she knows who she was although she has forgotten who this is; Yik’wax, meaning ‘dark’ in Téneek, exerts their spirit as a vital life force, reminding us of the balance of light and dark and that we cannot live without each other; and finally Xibam, meaning ‘brother’ in Téneek, a cute sibling spirit with eternal nurturing energy acknowledges that sometimes their own spirit runs away from them. A trace of movement is drawn that exposes the intensity of a pure feeling at the heart of each avatar.

As an antidote to the busy retail-driven energy of nearby Oxford Street, the series provides a portal into the realm of the invisible.  It's as if a hand reaches from one world and pulls the audience into another, and through the narratives of these avatars reminds the audience to protect their spirit, and their morphic field.

Passersby can activate the interactive AR filter by walking past a screen situated beside The Photographers’ Gallery entrance on Ramillies Street, and also by scanning QR codes that are featured on some of the posters. The AR effect invites users to embody the character of Uxkme, whose poster is pasted onto the gallery windows facing Ramillies Place. Users are encouraged to shapeshift with Uxkme by shaking their head to transform between two different versions of the avatar. First the users will find themselves wearing a beautiful mask and jewellery, before revealing an altered and augmented version of themselves. The patterns of Ukxme’s skin are applied to the user's face, whilst a pair of ears sprout from their head. Looking closely, users will notice that their own personal features have changed. 

An Instagram account is needed to experience the AR filter via the QR codes.

Back to top