Katayoon Yousefbigloo wins the Audain Travel Award

Incoming SCA MFA student Katayoon Yousefbigloo is the recipient of the 2020 Audain Travel Award for Visual Art Students, which has been reconfigured for "project support" instead of travel during the ongoing pandemic.

Drawing from an apocalyptic prediction in John Brunner’s 1972 dystopian novel The Sheep Look Up, Yousefbigloo's winning proposal is for a multi-channel virtual reality video installation that will "investigate the applications of virtual reality beyond the spatial and into the temporal" by attempting "to place a fictional event into an historical context" so that "viewers can 'Relive the Tragedy' in an immersive environment."

As Yousefbigloo notes in her application for the award:

We are past many of the chronological dates that seminal works of science fiction and crisis modeling have used to predict the future. We are post- 1984, Y2K, 2012, and numerous other apocalyptic milestones. This work will argue that since we have moved past those predicted dates, it is conceivable that those events have happened1. We are in a post-future state with access to a comprehensive technological mediation of the past, creating what philosopher Byung-Chul Han calls a narrative detemporalization of the present2. Media exists on a stagnant temporal plane, and by strategically picking from the media available on this plane of existence, I will narrativize disparate imagery in a virtual collage to document a moment from a previously speculated future event that we have now chronologically surpassed. By creating an immersive virtual reality experience that combines fragmented documentary media, the event will become a shared experience for every viewer, thus evoking what Borges describes in Tlön, Uqbar, Orbitus Tetrius as true reality through consensus3.


1. Viewed through the lens of a many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics first proposed by Hugh Everett III in his 1957 thesis “Quantum Mechanics by the Method of the Universal Wave Function”

2. Byung-Chul Han, The Scent of Time (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017), 26.

3. In Tlön, Uqbar, Orbitus Tetrius, the people of an imaginary world believe “a certain pain, a certain greenish tint of yellow, a certain temperature, a certain sound are the only reality. All men, in the vertiginous moment of coitus, are the same man, all men who repeat a line of Shakespeare are William Shakespeare.” Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (New York: New Directions, 1962) 12.

Congratulations, Katayoon!


Through video, music, writing and visual art I examine how media shapes our mythologies. Reverse engineering narratives, I use speculative fiction as a framework through which to imagine alternate realities and their commercial potentials. Unrelatedly, I am pursuing franchise opportunities for my musical project Puzzlehead.

About the Audain Travel Award for Visual Art Students

One award valued at $7,500 will be given in September 2020 to an undergraduate or graduate student to be used towards a project. For 2020 the funds are applicable to the purchasing of supplies and research materials toward an art project. The objective of the award is to broaden the student’s knowledge of historical and contemporary art so your project would benefit from a research component that increases your familiarity with historical or contemporary art.

Future awards will resume the original goal of the award which was primarily intended for travel (with some associated student project costs also be eligible).

This award is solely for visual art students enrolled full-time in a BFA or MFA program at the School for the Contemporary Arts.