Virtual reality has been hovering over the tech industry landscape for decades, but it may have finally arrived in the form of Oculus Rift, an imposing headset that fits over the eyes and ears and subsumes the user into a foreign world. That world has primarily been the creative domain of game developers, but artists Jax Deluca and Kyle Marler show that the possibilities for a virtual reality interface is as limitless as the storage capacity of modern terabyte hard drives.
Their latest iteration of Safewor(l)d at the Foundry Suites was tailored to Valentine’s Day couples and attempted to link their experiences through shared audio with Deluca’s guiding voice piped in. That’s good, because the wearing of the headset is a completely immersive experience sensually such that it becomes hard to imagine that there’s another world, i.e. the real one, that is reserved to touch, smell, and taste. At several points Deluca directed individuals by name to address their partner. By nature of the experience, it was both intimate and emotional.
But touch does come into play as a Nintendo controller is inserted into your hands by either Deluca or Marler—dressed as medical assistants—that allows you to manipulate and explore the various landscapes you find yourself in: a mountain scene where you’re suspended mid air, an ethereal grasslands where your firmly grounded to the swaying rod-like leaves of grass, a geometric fields of color that seem to position one inside the technology itself, to name a few. A touch of a the A or B button often shoots forth a projectile ball that collides with objects in the new world with visually psychedelic aplomb.
The image, obviously, don’t do the experience justice. Safewor(l)d is a powerful and singular art experience, and the medium is here to stay.