Many religions claim that the body is just a vessel for the soul. And at death, the soul doesn’t die, but it leaves the body to go somewhere else. How would that moment feel? Obviously, there’s really no way to know. Or is there?
Faith Condition, by Lukas Franciszkiewicz, is an ongoing project that explores the role of technology in the future of faith. His initial plan was to alter self-perception by “blurring the boundaries between the real and a virtual body.” He wanted to simulate the out-of-body experience, so he built a video rig that used a rear-mounted camera combined with video glasses, to give someone a view of themselves from the outside. Then he improved his system, creating a 3-D image by upgrading to stereoscopic cameras.
“Seeing yourself from behind in an immersive way is a simple method to achieve a disembodied feeling. My awareness during the experiments was that our technological augmentation is already so present that you don’t question what you see,” Franciszkiewicz tells Co.Design. “So instead of experiencing telepresence, I created scenarios for an disembodied sense to think about the implications of technological augmentation [of religion].”
Now, in his latest exploration of the project, he’s created a concept video of a futuristic faith device. In it, a person pulls a portable, third-person camera around with them–what Franciszkiewicz calls a “more playful” take on his initial machine–and that camera eventually follows someone to their place of worship, to increase the experience of a world larger than oneself.
It’s a fascinating project, if not for the technical illusion unto itself, then for the idea of technology altering the practices behind faith. It’s hard to imagine a Christian church that would swap out candles for LEDs, for instance, as so much of the Bible’s metaphor is built upon images from 2,000 years ago. But as technology increases our opportunities of perception–as we develop complex interaction models that could improve the immersion of rituals of yore–why not redesign religion to leverage new takes on old ideas?
Or, at minimum, could we at least get a cushier pew?