I love booking things without knowing or researching the detail. Everything from films, events, books and even holidays – much to family and friends horror. It’s within reason of course, but I purposely avoid the detail so that i’ve no expectations. Finding that experiencing something with no preconceptions is more satisfying. It somehow broadens my taste, becoming more open minded to things I ‘thought’ I wouldn’t like. Yep, it can lead to those ‘why am I here’ moments, but on the whole it’s successful. My most recent unknown journey was to an event called Lift at the Royal Accadamy:
In a group of five we were brought into one of the large gallery spaces. Neatly placed within the centre were five chairs that we were led to; and placed upon. We were then told to look straight ahead, given just enough time to take in our surroundings when headphones were put over our ears. A soft voice and sound effect began and our sureal journey unfolded.
At first, what struck me was the juxtaposition between the world we the participants were in (listening to voice and sound effects) and those who weren’t part of the performance. It felt as if we weren’t watching a performance but were somehow within it. Very surreal.
The secondary part of the experience was being blind folded. Someone then took my hand and the story grew as we ducked, twisted and weaved our way through the imagined spaces…. and an odd dance along the way.
In the darkness, senses are heightened. Working over time. Sound, temperature, light, becoming ever so more amplified as you try to guess your surroundings. The human touch adding an intemicy that is hard to describe. Trusting the voice and the guiding hand as you seemingly walk down stairs, out onto gardens and beyond.
What struck me at the end of the event was how immersed I was with very little to no technology or set design. These days, many people talk about immersive experiences by use of technology or huge sets such as Secret Cinema & PunchDrunk. But this was a low fi affair, an experience with simple wireless headphones. Furthermore, I found it more immersive than the before mentioned. I guess that’s because your imagination is the tool, conjuring up visuals of spaces and people. The mind delivering stronger imagery than any curated visual direction could.
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