Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are an underestimated public health threat. It impairs children’s brain development, immune system, and hormonal systems. These impairments predispose children to various chronic mental and physical dis- eases. However, its negative impacts are not widely known by the general public. Liu Change created a mixed reality (MR) installation based on her personal experience with ACEs and ACEs related Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which aims to provoke the audience’s reflection on ACEs and the in- fluence of their upbringings on their mental and physical development. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 audiences, and their response to this MR installation was ana- lyzed using the thematic analysis method. The analysis proved that this MR installation is capable of eliciting the audience’s reflection on ACEs and their upbringing. In addition, The VR experience enabled participants to emotionally and somatically experience several symptoms of PTSD, and 75% of the participants demonstrated a high level of emotional self-awareness during the VR experience. Lastly, the analysis revealed that participants who had never encountered ACEs are more likely.

This mixed reality installation consists of an interactive AR installation, an interactive VR narrative, and a collage film.

The AR installation consists of three parts: a sculpture, a holographic screen projected with animation, and audience participation. When the viewer approaches the holographic screen, his/her body movement will be captured by a depth camera, and the captured image will be projected onto the holographic screen in real-time, which blends with the ab- stract animation. This arrangement aims to make the audi- ence feel that he/she is no longer the spectator but the protag- onist of this animation.

AR installation

The animation is inspired by Nicole M. O’Neil’s poem “A family is like a circle” . The audio of Chang Liu reading this poem accompanies the holographic animation, describ- ing the positive aspect of kinship: the bond between fam- ily members is unbreakable; family is always there to watch over and support us; parents educate and enlighten us through their words and behaviors. In contrast, the animation depicts the negative aspect of kinship: the indestructible blood ties could also be lifelong torture from which one cannot escape; the excessive attention from family members may evolve into ceaseless blaming and abuse; Parents will stifle children’s au- tonomy by imposing values on them. The juxtaposition of the poem and the animation emphasizes the duality of con- sanguinity: nourish/shield vs. erode/fetter. The sculpture is a metaphorical representation of children growing up in an abusive family, who are like the seedlings rooted in noxious soil. The vines twined around the sculpture symbolize blood ties that fetter and erode the children; the mutated lower part of the sculpture indicates the emotional numbness and impaired physical health of abused children. The juxtaposition of the sculpture, the anima- tion, and the audience’s reflection on the holographic screen will prompts the audience to associate the holographic anima- tion with the sculpture and to associate the entire installation with his/her personal experiences; thus, the audience will be guided to reflect on kinship by recalling his/her upbringing.

VR film

I was diagonozed with childhood PTSD. Every time when I encounter stimuli in daily life that remind me of my truams, there will be vivid replay of these traumatic experiences in my mind and I will suffer from a surge of negative emotions related to my traumas. At the meantime,I will slip into a hypervigilant mental state, my sensory perception will be heightened, and I will suffer from great anxiety and alertness. In that state, I am very sensitive to others‘ hostility towards me, and the whole world looks and sounds more chaotic and threatening to me. Therefore I thought of using the photogrammetry of HK’s landscape to show the change in my mental state. And make use of the first-person perspective in VR to give the audience the feeling that they are looking at the environment from my perspective. The audience will be first placed in a world that represents my habitual mental state. There are four portals scattered in this world to transfer audiences to enclosed areas that has 360 montage clips showing my nightmares and traumatic memories. When these clips end, audiences will be transferred to the world that represents my hypervigilant mental state. There also four portals in this hypervigilant mental world that can send the audience back to my habitual mental world, so the audience can move on to explore other 360 films.

Domestic emotional abuse is often overlooked by the public and victims because its effects take time to manifest. Long- term emotional abuse leads to severe damage to a child’s “in- telligence, memory, recognition, perception, attention, language, and moral development” and causes various mental and behavioral disorders such as anxiety, depression, self- abasement, social withdrawal, and emotional dysregulation. Chang Liu created a collage film to promote public awareness of emotional abuse. The film depicts various forms of emotional abuse that may occur in a family, such as isolation, acting superior, emotional blackmail, invalidation, having unrealistic expectations, nitpicking, and over-control


◎Global culture award at Stuttgarter Filmwinter /01.2020-02.2020


◎Stuttgarter Filmwinter /01.2020-02.2020/kunstbezirk, Stuttgart, Germany

Media Coverages

◎Media art blog berlin von Ursula Drees


◎BIO·FICTION Science Art Film, Vienna  /09.2019 

◎Phantom Horizons Poject, Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin / 02.2020 

◎Relentless Melt No. 20: Hong Kong Animation Experiments/ 02.2021 

◎Microwave festival 2021: Connecting the dots/ 05.2021       


Liu, C., Sandor, C., & Cassinelli, A., “A Mixed Reality Installation to Elicit Reflexivity on Adverse Childhood Experiences”, , 27th International Symposium on Electronic Arts, June 2022, Barcelona, 8 pages. PDF


Liu Chang & Alvaro Cassinelli

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