We take a trip into the psychedelic and see how virtual reality has the potential to take music lovers to new worlds.
For the 2016 edition of the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia Draw & Code collaborated with celebrated designer and artist Pete Fowler and the Super Furry Animal’s Huw ‘Bunf’ Buford on a virtual reality animation called Perambulator V.1 that formed part of PZYK VR – an exploration of the still embryonic technology of virtual reality and how it works in the psychedelic scene.
This project began with the question of what happens when psychedelic music and culture gets its hands on the latest technology – in this case virtual reality. Silicon Valley and internet culture feature a fair smattering of counter-culture – from the Whole Earth Catalog to Burning Man – so it seems like a technology that promises to immerse the user deeper into the digital world than ever before could certainly work in the setting of a music festival.
With frequent visits to the studio here in Liverpool, it is fair to say that Pete Fowler endeared himself with the creative and technical teams here. We were already well aware of his work, so it was a thrill to turn his sketches, storyboards and designs into an interactive world built in Unity 3D and developed with mobile VR in mind.
Instead of the now common-place ‘teleport’ method of navigation in VR, the team opted for a more cinematic first-person linear film that took the user into colourful shops, across surreal plains and over imposing cartoon-like scenery, all cut to Bunf’s ethereal and exotic soundtrack.
The Samsung Gear VR headset was our weapon of choice on the hardware front, bolstered by the bass-emitting SubPac that creates a full-body sound experience.
PZYK VR worked perfectly in the music venue environment, offering those attending the festival the chance to go even deeper into the surreal visuals and emotive sounds than ever before. Perambulator was one of three VR experiences on offer with festival-goers reactions ranging from giddy laughter to deep thought – exactly how we like it!