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August 2018: Sherpa - The helping hands of the Himalaya

How far do you have to go to fulfill the romantic dream of a real mountaineer and when will this kind of tourism turn into exploitation? Christian Greitmann (director), Martin Kögel (art) and Dimosthenis Gkantzos explore this question through their interactive installation Sherpa - The helping hands of the Himalaya.

On the surface of a mountain sculpture, four players embark on a journey to climb a mountain with their adventurous tourists. They are actively supported by a Sherpa (mountain guide in the Himalayas). Aside from pointing, translating, and cultural information, the Sherpa literally carries the player to the top.

Through real recorded interviews with Sherpas, the players learn about the sherpa's everyday life and their difficulties and can decide for themselves how far they want to go to fulfill the romantic dream of a modern summiteer. During his seven-month stay in Nepal, director Christian Greitmann learned through situations and conversations with Nepalese tourist guides (known as Sherpa) what satisfying the consumption of tourists means in the roof of the world and for a developing country.

Often we only get to know about the record champions on Mount Everest and admire their courage, freedom and willpower, but you won't hear about the many helpers who make such a trip to unreal heights possible. Usually completely underpaid, Sherpa sacrifice their life for the Western dream and no one puts focus on them. Despite many hardships and hard work, Sherpa are proud of their country, love nature and introduce every outsider happily to their world.

While creating the installation it was important to keep a balance between the game character of Sherpa and the documentary content in order to make a picture of the topic as differentiated as possible. The concept is based on a simple interaction with the projection on the mountain surface. The players draw the path on the projection and can decide on what to do in certain situations.

The diploma project by Christian Greitmann (director), Martin Kögel (art director) and Dimosthenis Gkantzos (producer) will now be exhibited for the first time at Siggraph in Vancouver. The finalization of the project and the transportability of the installation was made possible by Animationsinstitut's talent initiative VR NOW.

Further information about the project can be found at sherpaproject.net