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Canyon Country Cultural Landscapes Virtual Reality Collaboratory

Project Details

Project Year: 2022-2023

Project Type: Collaboratory


Eric Heller, Lecturer, Athropology, USC

Innovation Scholars

Emma Johnson, Geological Sciences
Isabelle Lim, Business Administration, Designing for Digital Experiences
Yingtong Peng, Communication Data Science
Nicolas Diaz-Magaloni , Media Arts + Practice
Emma Leihe , Computer Science Games

The Collaboratory

Terraforming Mars Collaboratory
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Students in this collaboratory worked alongside the Canyon Country Cultural Landscapes Virtual Reality (CCCLVR) team to identify and solve critical problems in user experience (UX) design for cultural heritage applications. CCCLVR is partnering with indigenous communities, land management agencies, archaeologists, ethnographers, and conservationists, to develop Moon House VR (MHVR), an interactive virtual reality experience featuring the cultural heritage and landscapes of the American Southwest. The final product will be deployed in visitor’s centers throughout the Four Corners region to communicate relationships between native peoples and their sacred landscapes, highlight archaeological narratives, and promote community-informed stewardship of cultural heritage resources. 

As a public-facing project featuring ancient peoples and their descendant communities, MHVR must deliver non-linear educational content through compelling, accessible, immersive, and above all, culturally informed means. In collaboration with our indigenous community partners, cultural heritage experts, and interactive media designers, students will help develop innovative user-interface and virtual space solutions to meet the unique user-experience challenges posed by this endeavor. 

The Outcomes 

Terraforming Mars Collaboratory
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In conjunction with the Ahmanson Lab and CCCLVR, students in this Collaboratory produced an alpha version of MHVR that showcased their work and made significant contributions to the final version of the experience. As this is a multidisciplinary Collaboratory, we sought applicants from all fields: students with interest or background in indigenous studies, user experience research, interface design, or related fields.