Virtual world an amazing experience

By Linda Hall

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UK artist Simon Wilkinson tells Hawke's Bay Today assistant editor Linda Hall about The Cube.
UK artist Simon Wilkinson tells Hawke's Bay Today assistant editor Linda Hall about The Cube.

What: The Cube
Where: Hastings CBD opposite the town clock,
Part of the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival
When: 10am to 8pm daily; October 11-16
Reviewed by Linda Hall

You have to do this. It is absolutely incredible and it's free.

You can't miss The Cube - it's sitting in the middle of Hastings CBD.

Step inside and be prepared to take off into another world. It's a solo interactive virtual reality experience but I wasn't alone. With me was UK-based transmedia artist Simon Wilkinson who wrote The Cube based on the true story of eight students and a science teacher from the Magic Valley Liberal Arts College who mysteriously vanished in the Nevada Desert in 1959.

Two weeks after their disappearance, police discovered a black box in the desert containing eight letters which the students had written to their parents.

Once inside Mr Wilkinson had me sit opposite him at a little wooden table.

He had a keyboard and told me he would come on the journey with me.

I was intrigued. I was fitted with a headset and earphones. I have to admit I was a little bit nervous.

"You can stand up during the experience if you like," Mr Wilkinson said.

Then a voice started in my ears, a young voice telling me a story, meanwhile unfolding in front of me was this amazing colourful scenery.

Bright, almost fluorescent colour assaulted my senses as I looked left and right trying to take everything in.

Objects (not telling you what ) floated in front of me. I jumped a couple of times and at one stage I was holding on to my seat because when I reached for the table it wasn't there.

As another scene unfolded a cold wind hit me. It was an eerie experience and one that I really want to repeat because there was so much going on I want to make sure I didn't miss anything.

It only takes about 15 minutes but it seemed to go much faster than that as you are totally immersed in a virtual world.

Mr Wilkinson said there are two types of virtual reality.

"One is 3D which is static and the other is this interactive technology which is used in computer gaming: You get to explore the world."

The Cube has played worldwide and Mr Wilkinson said he was so glad to be able to bring it to Hawke's Bay and be part of the Arts Festival.
"It's another media for telling stories and it leaves a space for the audience to explore themselves. It mixes telling a story with an experience."

He said people react in all sorts of ways. "Some are really noisy, some wave their arms around, some stand and some are really still."

When it finished sitting in front of me was a letter to take away and read. So the experience carried on after I had left The Cube.

Don't miss out.

* The show is being funded from the Hastings District Council's city vibrancy fund. Entry to the show is free and it is suitable for 12-year-olds and over.

* Other free offerings from the festival include exhibitions and floor talks at the Hastings City Art Gallery; hosted walking tours of the public art in the Hastings and Napier city centres, and exhibitions at The Hastings Community Arts Centre (Arts Inc. Heretaunga) in Russell St.

* For more on the story behind The Cube see: www.beyondthebrightblackedgeofnowhere.com

- Hawkes Bay Today

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