Our approach, from the beginning, has been to take VR and focus on what makes it unique, as a medium, thus naturally bringing forth a form of story that is unique. This entire experience will be about the person wearing the headset — about them as them. The story is shaped by them.
We looked at what VR, as opposed to other mediums, affords us, and one natural answer was embodiment. A participant can embody any entity (or non-entity), and furthermore, exercise their physicality in a fictional or artistic world. In this experience, a transformation of identity takes place — a transcendental shift to another form of being. Such shifts are extremely tricky in other mediums, if not impossible. From a technical standpoint, we want embodiment to be as natural as possible; we will have no button clicks, teleportation, or distracting UI elements.
Furthermore, we decided to focus on physical expression and play with giving and taking it from the participant. We want interactivity to subsume the participant, and encourage them to let loose: to scream their hearts out, to sing, to swing and dance, to create music with their body, all in connection to the understanding and progress of the main narrative. The world should and will respond to any agency exercised at every step of the experience. At the same time, we will experiment with taking agency away, such that the loss is keenly felt.
We are also approaching the development of this experience from a “sound-first” perspective, which essentially means sound design and score influence the visual design as much as the other way round. We want the emotion to come from performing interactive tasks and the harmony of sound with this interaction, and therefore very much from “storyliving” and not traditional “storytelling”.
The story starts before a person dons the headset and ends long after they have removed it. The space/installation will enable the person in the headset to become a performer via the acts he/she is performing inside the virtual space, while simultaneously obscuring them enough for them to express themselves without worrying about other people. Is there a way to create an experience out of this for onlookers, a way to connect the virtual and real worlds with every participant’s story experience? Can a participant unwittingly perform a narrative that contains the essence of the story? Can there be a spontaneous creation of actor and audience?
By bringing together these components, we want to create a work that is accessible to anyone in the world, independent of language and free of assumptions based on culture and geography. We want to create an experience where you are not separate from the story.