Virtual reality isn’t just for gamers.
That’s the message Crossover Labs director Tom Millen has for Adelaide Fringe-goers this season, as the producer and exhibitor of immersive content prepares for his second festival.
The five-part Electric Dreams program includes a conference celebrating the art of virtual reality, a nighttime pyjama party inside the SA Museum and a “climate change symphony”.
It is part of the Fringe’s larger dive into the world of multidimensional shows, which also features the world’s first-ever feature-length drone show which organisers worked with alongside Indigenous artists.
“There is really interesting art and storytelling going on within virtual reality,” Millen, speaking to CityMag from his home in the UK, says.
“I think people are quite surprised by that and the amazing content you can be transported into.”
This year’s Electric Dreams program is carefully curated to appeal to a wide demographic of Fringe audiences. Their performances include:
- A nighttime pyjama party on Friday, February 18, at the SA Museum, where youngsters can wear VR goggles and explore alternative realities and imagined worlds.
- A one-day VR conference on Monday, February 21
- A virtual reality swing called Volo: Dreams of Flight outside the museum will also allow headset-wearers to experience Leonardo da Vinci’s famous flying contraptions, his studies of flight and pioneering work on perspective.
- Goliath, a 25-minute virtual-reality experience about schizophrenia, gaming and connection narrated by Tilda Swinton.
- Anthropocene in C Major, a 45-minute live performance that turns data into sound and tackles issues of climate change.
“This fits so well with the Fringe because it provides an opportunity to reach an audience that is out there to take a bit of a risk,” Millen says.
“We find people are way more receptive to it as part of the Fringe and also because the Fringe is a place for everything and all kinds of creative whether you can define what they are or not.
“Obviously we are asking people to rather than go and see some cabaret, some comedy or a circus, or whatever, to come into a dark room and put on a VR headset at the height of the Australian summer.
“So it doesn’t seem like the best sell, but we were so surprised how popular it was when we were here in 2020.”
Outside of the Electric Dreams program, the Fringe has two more immersive experiences.
Rider Spoke allows cyclists to explore Adelaide by bike for an hour in search of the best place to hide a secret. You are given a smartphone, a handlebar point and guided by a narrator and a delicate score.
Sky Song is also the world’s first ever feature-length drone show.
Together with First Nations artists, you can gaze up at the stars and watch hundreds of drones flying in formation to First Nation storytelling.
Songwriter and campaigner Archie Roach narrates the show, which unfolds over five chapters.
“It is time for us all to find our way back to the fire,” Archie says in the show.
“For the strong stories of our First Peoples to inspire hope and signify an awakening to the truth of our entire existence.”Jump to next article