Project Walden is an initiative to reflect on aesthetic tastes, literature, art, nature, and sensory experiences in virtual surroundings for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days in a digital model of Henry David Thoreau's cabin that he built in the summer of 1845. the goal of this project is to write a revised version of Thoreau's book, Walden; or, Life in the Woods.
vr / ar performance
started: 2018 - ended: 2021
as much lore surrounds the cabin Henry David Thoreau built at Walden Pond as the infamous book he wrote within its walls. today, only replicas of the cabin exist, like the one pictured above, thanks to Thoreau's painstaking documention of its construction within the pages of Walden; or, Life in the Woods. every detail of the cabin's cost, dimensions, required lumber, and number of nails needed to create it was recorded. this documentation is ideal for executing a model with 3d authoring software.
sleep test 1.0
initial tests for Project Walden started in the spring of 2018, in Canada. these early tests were focused on trying out an emerging technology within a room that had similar dimensions to the cabin at Walden. after this period, i abandoned virtual reality work, and instead spent two years in Manhattan, living in a small room the same size as the Walden cabin in order to benchmark reality under conditions of extreme solitude.
entering my cabin for the first time, July 4th 2020.
real world view, entering the cabin, July 4th 2020. video: © D.Briker
in the summer of 2020 i was forced to leave Manhattan for exile in Canada where i began conducting experiments with an Oculus Quest vr headset. on July 4th, 2020, 175 years to the day that Henry David Thoreau spent the first night in his cabin on the shore of Walden Pond, i entered v1.0 of my Walden cabin model, where i hope to eventually live for an extended period of time in order to document my experiences in a new version of nature.
lying in the forest at Walden Pond: photo: © D.Briker
v1.0 of my virtual home at Walden Pond is laughably rudimentary at this early stage of the project. but a day when it will be as comforting as an open, softly lit door in a dark wood, beckoning me inside with a place to rest by the hearth of a fire can't be far off. in the meantime i will continue to conduct experiments while writing my book of findings called Walden; or, Life in the Woods. my version of Walden will be created as a manual to life in an artificial world, much like Thoreau’s has been used for over 100 years to navigate our current, and arguably crumbling, one.
Due to technology limitations and budget concerns, Project Walden was put on indefinite hiatus in June of 2021.