Between Lands VR Installation Premiere (MFA) / by Chris Baum

"You are not surprised at the force of the storm — you have seen it growing...

Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain.
Now the immense loneliness begins...

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have."

(Rilke, Book of Hours II, 1)

Who, really, doesn't know darkness? Whether it's personal, societal, environmental, or political, we know it all too well. So what then does it mean to be a light? "Between Lands”, an audio/visual experience that blurs the line between our physical and digital lives, attempts to answer that very question. Using virtual reality technology, the installation experiments with new forms of social interaction; participants communicate between two separate realities to illuminate a series of beacons, gradually bringing light into a darkened world. The piece, created by Mike Mandel, Jeff Hesser, Dare Matheson, Dawn Rivers, Tim Zylicz, and Dan Egan, with music by Guy Mendilow and myself, premieres this evening at the MFA in Boston.

Utilizing new technology from HTC and Valve, one participant will wear a headset that reveals a fantastical alternate reality within the space of the exhibit.  Carrying a digital torch, they will navigate the exhibit seeking to illuminate each beacon one at a time. Their torch will only stay lit if they follow a secret path, visible only to the audience and a second participant.  This participant will guide the torch carrier on a journey through a series of hidden portals, revealing dark hallways and open vistas, culminating in an explosion of color and sound when a new beacon is successfully illuminated.  As each of the 8 beacons are lit, the room transforms from a dark and mysterious place to a vibrant and joyful one. 

 Installation setup

Installation setup

 Recording vocals

Recording vocals

 Torch and lantern bearer

Torch and lantern bearer

 VR screenshot

VR screenshot