I am like a donkey
ready to kick when startled, so you can be assured that reviewing a VR
installation like ‘Joan Ross: Did You Ask
the River?’ (JRDYATR) is
However, there was no
screaming on my part in JRDYATR; an
immersive 360 experience that requires the use of a headset to explore a
pre-colonial coastal setting yet to be ravished by Western civilisation.
A commentary on the
destructive nature of consumption and colonisation, JRDYATR bounds its participant, a woman adorned in a canary yellow dress,
in a small rectangular space loaded with an array of Mad Hatter-esque items
each of which prompting their own chain of reactions.
In the ten or so
minutes I had in JRDYATR, I was able
to destroy the forest, (poorly) apply lipstick, breed what looked like 100
rabbits, take a selfie, and find a drawer loaded with cake that would have
Marie Antoinette drop her jaw. Otherwise, I spent a lot of time wandering and
wondering what there was to do next in the installation, with technical issues
prohibiting me from interacting with certain elements and ultimately left me
with feelings of frustration over how jarring and incomplete the experience
The current state of
virtual reality is at the same place where Nokia was before the smartphone, and
unfortunately, this is evident in JRDYATR
with the installation having the look of a 90’s Nintendo 64 game with all the
functionality issues of an 80’s Atari game.
All this being said, there is much promise for VR based installations, and though the experience with JRDYATR was troublesome, it speaks to exciting opportunities for future pieces to take full effect of the medium.
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