A short speculative fiction that investigates the domestication of Virtual Reality as a self-prescriptive measurement taken to disrupt and subvert an individual’s own visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses for personal and psychological fulfillment. In this scenario, a narrative unfolds around a masochist who repurposes this psychotechnic advancement to embrace his most ritualistic instinct, self-preservation, through immersion-based exposure to his most dormant fear: isolation.


Written & Directed by Sankalp Bhatnagar // 48 hours

Speculative VR Torture Wrap

Forced Compliance by With VR Torture Wrap

Attempts to Cope With VR Torture Wrap

Attempts to Cope With VR Torture Wrap


Coming Soon. 


The Dark Age of Virtual Reality-Based Torture is Approaching Fast | MOTHERBOARD


Bjorn Franke – Design Fiction Is Not Necessarily About the Future

 Presenting Fictional Worlds

 “These media [film or photography]  support the creation of alternative worlds as they allow creating a narrative, through which fictional design objects are rendered believable in their use or cultural implications”

James Auger – Speculative Design: Crafting the Speculation

 Historical and semantic issues

 “…one of the core motivations of this practice is to shift the discussion on technology beyond the fields of experts to a broad popular audience”

 Speculative futures and alternative presents

 “First, existing paradigms can inform future developments of technology…Second, alternative presents are design proposals that utilise contemporary technology but apply different ideologies or configurations to those currently directing product development.”

 Speculative design: a methodology

 “One of the key factors…is the careful management of the speculation; if it strays too far…the audience will not relate to the proposal resulting in a lack of engagement or connection.”

 “Inspiration and influence for this ‘perceptual bridge’ can come from diverse fields such as…horror films”

 Design for context: the ecological approach

 “Any experience that challenges a preconception will at first appear odd, but here the detail and finish of the artefacts, combined with the short explanations describing their functions and modes of interactions, entices the audience into exploring the concept further.”

 The uncanny: desirable discomfort

 “In order to elicit audience engagement and contemplation on a subject it is sometimes helpful for a speculation to provoke.”

 “In the genre of horror it is preferable to exploit the uncanny to elicit maximum psychological effect; however, for a speculative design project a more careful approach is required.”

Verisimilitude: design fiction or design faction

 “…it is preferable for the concept to pass as real, described better perhaps as design factions: a form of verisimilitude where truths are blurred and disbelief is suspended.”

 “the creation of a convincing speculative design project: the crafting of complex narrative or artiface…taking advantage of contemporary media, familiar settings and complex human desires of fears.”

 Observational comedy: rooting the speculation in the familiar

 “it works in portraying a tangible and engaging new mode of interaction. its power lies in the familiarity of the scene, making the film both compelling and thought-provoking.”

 “Another technique based on observation is to take advantage of stereotypical or commonly held assumptions about a specific subject

Domesticating technology: literally

 “…hypothetical translations of disruptive technological innovations into the future products they could become.”

“hypothetical possibilities not real products; utopian concepts and dystopian counter-products. They can inspire an audience to think not only about what they do want for their future selves but also what they do not want”

Matt Malpass – Between Wit and Reason: Defining Associative, Speculative, and Critical Design in Practice

Speculative Design

“situated between emerging scientific discourse and material culture…typically focuses on the domestication of up-and-coming ideas in the sciences and applied technology. It is concerned with the projection of socio-technical trends, developing scenarios of product roles in new use contexts”

“the aim is to make scientific theories and the cultural implications of science perceptible in different ways.”

“These propositions require us to question our values and how our values might need to change in order for the science and technology to be realized in such a way.”

“Work produced as speculative design is dependent on the construction of an external narrative and scenarios depicting the design’s use.”

“..the objects and science that they address are often depicted through film, image and other documentary material; they contextualize emerging technology”

 Speculative and Critical Design Work through Juvenalian Satire

 “narrative forms of allegory, exaggeration, antithesis, obscenity, and violence, Juvenalian satire is ‘darker’….[and]…tries to evoke contempt, shock, and righteous indignation in the mind of the user”

 Rationality and Ambiguity

 “Speculative design is concerned with developing technology or science and simply project possibilities.”

 “the object and its use are dependent on the fabrication of an external narrative to contextualize it and make sense of the object and its context of use.”

“So the focus in speculative design is on creating uncertainties about the information delivered through the design and its supporting narrative, while at the same time positioning it as an object of product design.”


3 thoughts on “ISOLATION

  1. This is similar to the Divergent(2014) movie scene where the ‘Dauntless” are tested by activating the fear zone of their brain and making them go through there fears. Sounds scary and I see a possibility of this being adapted by law enforcement and secret services in future.

    • many thanks Deepa! I haven’t seen this particular film, but I appreciate the reference; indeed, I foresee similar possibilities and hope this project may serve as a cautionary tale of sorts.

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