UTOPIA 1.0: POST-NEO-FUTURIST-CAPITALISM IN 3D!
ANNIE BERMAN / DAVE TENNANT / LEE TUSMAN
Is Virtual Reality the next big thing or have we seen it before?
“Utopia 1.0” presents the digital ruins and last days of Second Life inside of a virtual theater. What began as a nonfiction film by filmmaker Annie Berman is transformed into an interactive and immersive 3D experience for Oculus Rift with the help of Tennant and Tusman. Together, they offer a “look at the future through the rear view mirror,” as Marshall McLuhan once described, and invite the audience to travel back to the future, to the now largely-abandoned virtual world of Second Life, via the Oculus Rift headset.
Can VR be experienced as cinema, as a shared experience in which we are both present together, and alone within our headsets?
Three Second Life avatars served as ushers. The avatars seated the audience in screenings of three at a time and served them popcorn. The popcorn helped create the experience of cinema and better fulfilled the promise of full-immersion by engaging the viewer’s remaining senses—taste, smell, and touch—so that all five were engaged.
To complement the Oculus Rift film experience, a selection of in-world photographs by Marco Manray featured in the film were presented in Viewmaster and Keychain Photo Viewers. Berman, Tennant, and Tusman were interested in our evolving perception of three-dimensionality from the 1890s-era Mutoscope movies, proto-cinema Zoetropes and 1960s-era Viewmasters, to the contemporary Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard experiences.
On August 12, 2015, one hundred twenty people experienced the VR film over the course of three-and-a-half hours, most of whom had never before donned a VR headset.