Two friends build a makeshift scanner to digitize people. To their surprise, it works and now YOU are trapped inside a computer, trying to work out how to escape.
Downloaded is a very modern parable, addressing the role that technology plays in our lives. After all, are we not already—to one degree or another—trapped in our computers? Alas, our social media “feed” doesn’t nourish us and nor does instant access to all human knowledge make us more informed. To escape our digital prison cells we need to rebuild real-world, human connections.
A Narrative-Led, Interactive VR Experience
The classic Sci-Fi film TRON shares with the recent Netflix series Altered Carbon, the notion of digitizing a human mind such that the illusion of consciousness can be simulated by an algorithm. Downloaded is a light-hearted interactive narrative that relies on the same premise. The viewer finds themselves disembodied and trapped inside a computer, looking out through the screen, while their accomplice, Lisa, works frantically from the outside to try and free them. But the participant holds the keys to their own escape. The experience is responsive to different levels of engagement, allowing (but not necessarily requiring) the viewer to actively participate in solving the puzzles necessary to restore them to their body.
The execution uses a hybrid of cinematic live action footage and 3D laser scanning, with artfully stylized real-time game engine graphics, in a headset-based, room-scale VR experience that lasts between 5-8 minutes, depending on user interactions. We’re using a novel approach to combining the live action and CG imagery, to create a convincing and spatially authentic illusion of being trapped inside a computer.
It’s like a game-film-immersive-theatre-escape-room and you really have to try it for yourself!
Downloaded had its world premiere in competition at the Venice Biennale in August/September 2019, followed by screenings at:
We are currently raising money to turn Downloaded into a 10 episode interactive VR series—like a less bleak Black Mirror, in VR, starring YOU. Where every episode will deal with different contemporary social and technology issues and where your embodiment in the story will allow you to examine these issues subjectively, with more at stake.