|Milica Zec,Winslow Porter
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We want to encourage our viewers to feel the journey into the lens of nature and, as such, begin to personalize the toll of man-made climate change and deforestation.
Milica Zec, & Winslow Porter, authors
This VR project immerses viewers into the lifetime of a tree, from a seedling to a full-grown rain forest tree. This sensory journey augments virtuality through haptic feedback and on-site smells, making the users take the perspective of a tree as their arms become branches and their body the trunk in the middle of a lush Peruvian Amazon landscape.
The goal of the project is to reflect on the rapid pace of rainforest loss, and the implications of virtual documentation of an environment we’re losing. Users receive a real kapok tree seed to plant before they put on a headset.
Filmmakers Milica Zec and Winslow Porter collaborated with Xin Liu and Yedan Qien, researchers from the Fluid Interfaces group at the MIT Media Lab, who designed and built the haptic experience, augmenting virtuality with physical stimuli. They used Subpac “a pair of customized vibration oversleeves with six local points and a vibrating floor powered by four based transducers” as they describe in their website. That tactile element is combined with bass audio integrated into different parts of the user’s body, an air mover and heaters so they could feel “the disturbance of a forest fire as well as a bird landing on a branch.”