Is it possible to feel the fear, pleasure or pain of another? Heralded as an ‘empathy machine’, virtual reality now available on the high-street, opens new doors to technologically enhanced experiences. From dropping acid to experiencing incarceration, Virtual Reality Arcade presents a dizzying and powerful set of documentary works inviting you to walk in the shoes of another.
In Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness, which recently won the Storyscapes Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, you can experience what it is like for a blind man to visualise the world through sound, while In My Shoes: Dancing With Myself shows you what it is like to experience the disorienting onset of epilepsy. In Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel you become a young man in 1916 Dublin, swept up in a political struggle that changed his life and the destiny of a nation.
Three VR docs take us on different parts of the migrants’ journey to find a safe haven in Europe. We Wait is Aardman Animations’ first VR film – and takes on a boat with a Syrian family in a desperate bid for survival. The National Theatre’s Home: Aamir takes us into the Calais Jungle, while Invisible, commissioned by us and Sheffield Doc/Fest, takes us inside migrant detention centres in the UK. In Collisions you will meet an aboriginal elder whose first contact with white society was during the atom bomb tests at Maralinga.
You can take a virtual acid trip with the people who started the hippy movement in Origins. 6×9: A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement catapults you into the stark reality of the lives of American prisoners who are locked up for 23 hours a day, while in Across the Line, you can experience first-hand the challenges of seeking reproductive healthcare in the US. You can even travel to the International Space Station and see if you can cope when a space-walk doesn’t go to plan in Home – An Immersive Spacewalk Experience or become a scientist on the surface of Mars, looking for clues to the planet’s history in Mars 2030.
The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.
List of projects:
6×9: A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement
Across the Line
Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel
Home – An Immersive Spacewalk Experience
Home : Aamir
In My Shoes: Dancing With Myself
Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness
For more information on the Alternate Realities programme, please visit https://sheffdocfest.com/interactive/overview