Desert Stars (Estrelas do Deserto) is a virtual reality documentary which, through disseminating the cosmic vision of the Sahrawi people, seeks to denounce the treatment faced by these refugees.
The Sahara desert occupies a third of the African continent. It is one of the least hospitable places on the planet. The region is dry enough to mummify corpses and kill bacteria. Since 1975, Sahrawi refugees have been living under these extreme conditions in five camps around Tindouf, in southeastern Algeria.
Using the principles of co-creation and research-creation, the project studies how virtual reality can be used as a tool for scientific dissemination, specifically regarding ethnoastronomy, a science which studies the astronomical knowledge of a people through their orally communicated customs.
During the experience, the user enters a room, sits on a carpet with pillows, puts on the virtual reality goggles and, then, finds themself in the middle of a refugee camp. There, the user is received by a Sahrawi elder who tells stories about the sky while she prepares tea for the visitor. She also tells stories about what it’s like to be a refugee. As it is an experience with six degrees of freedom, the user can also leave the space and interact with other objects and people.
This project is part of the Rio de Janeiro Federal University’s (UFRJ) Creative Media Graduate Program (PPGMC), and is being developed in partnership with the scientific dissemination program GalileoMobile, CEFET students, and with support from Bug404.
The virtual reality documentary, Desert Stars, is currently being completed. It will be part of a transmedia project which include a linear documentary, an interactive documentary, a 3D video, and a podcast.