Project Walden is an initiative to reflect on aesthetic tastes, literature, art, nature and hyperaesthesic 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 tbe 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. early tests were mainly focused on trying out a new, emerging technology in its infancy, within a room that had similar dimensions to the Walden cabin. after this period i abandoned virtual reality work, and instead spent 2 years in Manhattan, living in a small room the same size as the Walden cabin in order to live in order to benchmark reality under the circumstances 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 while wearing 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 will eventually live for 2 years 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 obviously, laughably, rudimentary at this early stage of the project. but the day 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 that is not only warm, but real, isn't 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 this crumbling one that i plan on being among the first to leave.
More into & links
Project Walden at are.na
Chapter 1 of Project Walden: Walden; or, Life in the Woods, at Medium
Due to technology limitations and budget concerns, Project Walden ended in June of 2021