Living in a city like New York is unlike anywhere else. Home to eight million residents, the beauty of the metropolitan rests on its simultaneous diversity, exuberance and rigidity. This is the place where dreamers, hustlers and go-getters come together to conquer. Meanwhile, a pivotal component of New Yorker’s daily lives goes to the public transit experience. Every day, millions walk into the subway and lock their eyes on the small screens without noticing the surroundings and sounds. In our mobile-driven world, when individual isolation in the joint environment becomes the norm, human’s perception to the ambience falls apart. To be more precise, we unwittingly shut down our sensibility and our eyes become the sole window to the outside world.
WHEN YOUR EARS BECOME YOUR EYES, WHAT’S THE WORLD GONNA BE?
“The Darkness” project renders the conventional VR experience into something unexpected. The experience aims to bring back the beautiful sounds that are present yet overlooked in our daily lives. Players are invited to “The Darkness” anticipating they shall see a magnificent out-of-the-world virtual reality. However, in a split second with the headset on, they are exposed to sheer darkness instead. The only senses the players can rely on are hearing and touching. “The Darkness” is designed as quasi-gaming mechanism: Player starts a blind journey and makes his way through New York City by verbally informing the guide of his desirable walking direction as well as squeezing the guide’s wrist to move forward. In replacement of devices, “The Darkness” features a real human to serve as the guide to help players navigate through the unusual wandering. For most people, it’s probably their first time traveling with ears only. Difficult as it seem in the beginning, the player shall gradually gets used to it through interactions with the guide. The entire experience is explored in real-time with instant location feedback relayed by the guide.
“The Darkness” sets off with the player finding themselves stand on the platform of subway. Two recorders had been used to simulate various intensities of sounds in proximity to the passing train. The player can do trial-and-error to seek the correct location of the elevator. Once successfully getting into the elevator, the player will be taken into the ground level while catching the subtle rumbles. Then, the sounds change immediately. The car-horn. The siren. The strides of pedestrians. Up until here, the player will be directed to cross the street to the park. Afterwards, the dribbling of basketball ensues. The music being played at the park. All featuring sounds are captured from real world to create authentic simulation of walking in Madison Square Park. Additionally, the structure of subway station and relative locations of different objects on the streets are both mapped out of 3D to reflect the real distance.
Venue and Exhibition Information
ITP & IMA Spring Show 2019
May 21 - May 22
ITP - NYU