Southwestern Colorado


Maya Archaeological Site


Virtual Reality Monument (online social hub)

Digital Anthropology and VR Posts

Virtual Reality Research


As we join together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this remains a dark day in United States history. It saddens us that our nation’s capital is on lock-down and Dr. King’s memorial is temporarily inaccessible to the general public.

We at VR Past&Present (Dr. David Hixson and Dr. Jeffrey Vadala) have been working at the MLK Memorial for a new project that is still on the horizon, but in celebration of the reverend’s birthday, we wished to bring a sample of our efforts, and the monument to Dr. King’s vision, a little closer to all of you.

To this end, we have created two brief preview-products to commemorate this day. We would like to share both of these with you (links below) and ask that you share these experiences widely with whomever might need this inspiration today.

Youtub Video: “Our God is Marching On”

First, we have created a short video using our photogrammetric models of the central sculptures combined with the audio of Dr. King’s inspiring and powerful recitation of “Our God is Marching On,” delivered in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25th, 1965. His words, combined with the imagery of his monument in D.C., are as germane today as they were in the immediate aftermath of the Montgomery bus boycotts of his times.

The MLK Memorial Hub: An Online Interactive Multi-User Experience

The second is a multi-user, multi-platform exploration / interpretation of the MLK memorial hosted in the virtual social gathering platform Mozilla Hubs. This simplified version of the memorial allows users from around the world to gather in the shadow of Dr. King. Whether you use your phone, tablet, pc, or VR headset, all can meet virtually together to tour this iconic monument and explore its spatial significance.

We will be in attendance in the afternoon / evening of Monday, January 18th (Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday) within the Mozilla Hubs reconstruction to give personalized tours or to answer any questions about the process. But this space is open to all of you at any time, to join others in remembering the teachings of Dr. King at this momentous time in our history.

To log into the MLK Memorial Hub, simply use this link and follow the brief setup (no registration required).

For the next 48 hours, we also have a quick login established. To use the quick login (before Jan. 20th) simply go to:, click “Have a Room Code?” and enter the following six digits: 325 292

Preferred Browsers for the MLK Memorial Hub:

To access Hubs on the PC/iPhone/Android, use Safari or Chrome.

To access Hubs on the Oculus Quest, use the official Oculus Browser.

To access Hubs on PCVR headsets (such as Rift-S), use the Firefox browser.

This project was inspired by the work of Simon Che de Boer and We hope to coordinate further for a full release of the entire MLK Memorial in the near future.



VR Past&Present

Jeffrey R. Vadala PhD Temple University  Alissa M. Jordan PhD University of Pennsylvania This research explores the emergence of the Ugandan Knuckles online virtual reality cult. We do this by using the case study of users of a meme-avatar, known as the Ugandan Knuckles, that dramatically “took over” a virtual reality social platform, VRChat. After its introduction, this meme rapidly transformed the futuristic VRChat social sphere into something many users considered entirely “unusable.” Historically and ethnographically exploring how this happened, we characterize the emergence of the Ugandan Knuckles phenomena as an assemblage of multiple interconnected components and flows of social power, technology, virtual embodiment and representation that eventually came to reiterate deeply problematic media depictions of african culture, religon, and black masculinity. We also explore the social processes that contribute to constituting virtual reality platforms like VRChat into both the what some call the “future of online socializing” but also commonly an “infested” “trollfest.” We are preparing a peer reviewed publication for release in 2020. 

Screenshots of VR Ethnographic Work:

Follow this link to see progress on my virtual reality ancient Maya site used for spatial analysis and interactive experiential college courses. The videos and pictures were composed from three versions (2013-2014, 2016, 2019-2020) of the virtual reality reconstruction of Cerro Maya (Cerros, Belize).

Although they relied on different software toolsets (CryEngine, Unreal 2.0, Unreal 4.13, Unreal 4.20), all versions were produced to be as historically accurate as possible. Details for the reconstructions were garnered from contemporary research, excavation notes, original survey maps, satellite imagery, and photography.

I have used these reconstructions as analytical tools for examining astronomical uses of architecture, social spaces used for ritual, social segregation, and more. Additionally, these 3d reconstructions have been used as teaching tools for anthropology and archeology classes at the University of Florida, Hampshire College, and The College of New Jersey.

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