|2016||Francesca Panetta,Lindsay Poulton|
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“A virtual experience of solitary confinement.”
6×9 is a virtual reality project that situates the audience in a U.S. solitary confinement prison cell. Today, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 prisoners in the U.S. are held in solitary confinement where they spend around 23 hours a day without any human contact, for days, weeks, or even years. Based on the testimonies of former solitary inmates and psychologists, 6×9′s visceral narrative depicts the sensory deprivation and psychological damage caused by such isolation.
The computer-generated imagery of 6×9 is created in Unity game engine, and it can be experienced in the Guardian’s VR app with the Samsung Gear VR headset or Google Cardboard. The users can explore their surroundings in a 360-degree vision; they can also use their gaze to trigger hotspots that unlock voiceovers related to the objects within the cell. The audio of the piece includes authentic prison sounds repurposed from the documentary Solitary Nation by PBS Frontline, adding a further layer to the project’s realism. 6×9 is an immersive experiment that tells a journalistic story through embodiment and the senses.