VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE TO SCREEN AS PART OF THE 2022 SXSW FILM XR EXPERIENCE SPOTLIGHT
A WORLD-FIRST DURATIONAL ONLINE VR EVENT, UNFURLING OVER 24 HOURS
A MEDITATION ON TIME, CHANGE AND LOSS IN THE WORLD’S OLDEST TROPICAL RAINFOREST
AN ONLINE-NATIVE MULTIPLAYER EXPERIENCE; SXSW DEBUT FOLLOWS WORLD PREMIERE AT SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL IN NEW FRONTIER ONLINE
THIS FOREST IS CHANGING… DO YOU SEE IT?
A durational VR experience – from the Australian VR team of director Ben Joseph Andrews, producer Emma Roberts, and other talented collaborators – that unfurls over 24 hours, Gondwana is a constantly-evolving virtual ecosystem chronicling the possible futures of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree. Like the rainforest itself, Gondwana is a system of possibilities.
Weather, seasons, and biodiversity shift and change as users freely explore a vast map of wild rivers, rugged gorges and ancient trees. But a broader narrative stirs below: over the 24 hours, the rainforest procedurally degenerates, fed by climate data projections.
Each showing of this online-native multiplayer event is unrepeatable and speculative: a meditation on time, change and loss in an irreplaceable ecosystem.
More info and tickets: https://schedule.sxsw.com/2022/films/2053875
In VR – Using a tethered headset and gaming PC with an internet connection.
In 2D – Using a keyboard and a mouse to navigate on a gaming PC with an internet connection.
Via Livestream – Tune in to a (non-interactive) livestream of Gondwana via the film’s website www.gondwanavr.com
ABOUT THE USER EXPERIENCE
Gondwana is a living, breathing virtual ecosystem that goes live for 24 hours at a time. A remote server is the master controller for all manner of happenings, from seasonal weather changes, the frequency of lightning storms, the length and intensity of wet season downpours, all the way to the rarity of animal encounters. Each and every moment within Gondwana is truly unique, as unpredictable as the Daintree itself. There are lots of things to do in Gondwana, but what you decide to do is up to you! Freely explore the diverse landscape, from fan palm forests to mangroves; look for animals (especially the elusive cassowary), hike up a mountain, discover hidden areas… or just sit on a beach, listen to the birds and watch the sunrise. You can even explore with friends: this is a multiplayer experience, with other users represented as glowing particle fields. Being in Gondwana is designed to be a contemplative experience but one that’s full of the wonder of the natural world.
However, a wider narrative lies beneath this awe-inspiring beauty. While the server generatively selects the parameters that produce the rainforest’s dynamism, so too does it control the macro story of Gondwana: the story of climate change that unfolds over 24 hours of exhibition. A number of climate projections are fed into Gondwana—some are business-as-usual models, some conservative, others less so. Each 24-hour cycle, a different story unfolds, a different future, a speculative forecast for how things might progress. The only thing that can halt this seemingly inevitable change is people: the more users spend time in Gondwana, the more resilient this forest becomes, and the less likely it is we reach a catastrophic future. Come and go as you please, and make an imprint on the future of the world’s oldest rainforest.
Designed for SteamVR-enabled headsets, desktop, and web.
“In researching this project, we spent 5 months living off-grid in the Daintree, learning from Traditional Owners and scientists to understand this very special place, experiencing first-hand the immeasurable complexity, interconnectedness and sentience of this vast and ancient ecosystem. To be entangled within the dynamic flux of the Daintree’s living, breathing nature is to put the human perspective into proportionate scale. Here, we understood how small we really are: organisms floating inside the lungs of something infinitely larger. Time collapses in on itself, its cycles moving a few rings wider than normal.”
“We want audiences from around the world to become entranced by the Daintree, to come together to hear the call-and-response of the Wompoo dove, to experience the incredible power of a wet season deluge, to understand how the rhythms of the cicadas change as the weather does. But we also want audiences to feel the difference of the rainforest when the Wompoo doves are no longer sounding, when the rainfall is no longer frequent, when the light in the forest changes as the canopy recedes. The speculative, procedurally degenerative nature of Gondwana acknowledges that we do not know exactly which way things might unfold—data changes, models are updated. But one thing is for sure: if we do not act, and act with urgency, we stand to lose something magical, something ancient, something irreplaceable.”
– Ben Joseph Andrews