Photogrammetry and Activism

This new research initiative at Playwork aims to apply the strengths of virtual reality (VR) and photogrammetry to a social justice context. The project team will iteratively create virtual analogs to real spaces, through the process of documenting those spaces, interviewing their current and former inhabitants, and using photogrammetric data (i.e. measurements derived from photographs) to generate 3D digital objects and environments. Those objects and environments would then be presented as part of a coherent VR experience designed to allow users access to two inaccessible spaces–an semi-permanent encampment of homeless individuals, and the interior of a Los Angeles County jail–as well as access to the complicated stories, dialogues, and debates surrounding the representation of such spaces.

While the design team has already begun prototyping a preliminary concept for the experience, the exact nature of that experience, and the narratives and rhetorics it deploys, will be designed and developed over time in collaboration with former inmates, transient individuals, and other experts. In this way, we hope that the project can be driven by the expertise of two interconnected and marginalized communities in Los Angeles, and serve their needs and goals rather than simply providing voyeuristic entertainment for virtual tourists.

Participating Researchers

Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz (RUST LTD. and USC); Marcus Beningno, Eve Garrow, and Esther Lim (ACLU); Yovanna Cifuentes-Goodbody, Craig Dietrich, Christopher Gilman (Center for Digital Liberal Arts, Occidental College); Cord Lambrecht, Joshua Medina, Halen Nunn, Julie Phan (Occidental College students)


  • TBD. Research and pre-production has just begun as of mid-November 2017.

Public Talks and Presentations

  • TBD. (See above.)

Artistic Output

  • Three untitled VR experiences. In pre-production.


  • TBD. (See above.)

Photo Credit

  • The photo at the top of this page was taken by Craig Dietrich, “early morning at the Downtown Los Angeles OccupyLA protest, 29 October 2011”. It is available online.


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