Brownstein: virtual and affordable walk to the final border

Infinity teleports visitors almost 400 kilometers above Earth to the International Space Station.

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Holy Obi-Wan Kenobi!

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Over the years I have embarked on some wild journeys, some even in conventional modes of transportation. But never anything close to the virtual journey made to infinity, the ultimate immersive experience that brings visitors closer to most mere mortals who arrive in outer space, without falling into it.

Visitors, equipped only with state-of-the-art headphones, are teleported 400 kilometers above the Earth, to the International Space Station, where we are practically and can almost touch, among other astronauts, the explorer of the city native David St-Jacques and American Anne McClain while floating weightlessly around the station performing complex technical functions and, in a way, hanging out in their living / sleeping room.

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The Infinite opens Wednesday and runs through November 7 at the Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal. He later heads to NASA, on the ground in Houston.

Montrealers should not be jealous of billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. Their space travel took them 100 and 80 kilometers, respectively, and lasted less than 15 minutes.

True, they briefly experienced weightlessness, but at what price? The father of the Dutch teenager, Oliver Daemen, aboard the Blue Origin rocket from Bezos had to pay US $ 28 million on Tuesday for the privilege of his son riding alongside Amazon’s supreme Jeff, his brother Mark and the irrepressible Wally Funk, 82.

A journey through infinity starts at $ 35.

Conception of the artist of infinity, a virtual reality exhibition on the International Space Station.
Conception of the artist of infinity, a virtual reality exhibition on the International Space Station. Photo of Phi Center

Undoubtedly, Bezos and Branson’s “astronauts” captured the entire light show. But the colors of Infinity (magnificent, majestic oranges and blues) and the views and, yes, the avatars are, therefore, other mundane things. We tried cautiously, always worried, to slide from the station into the cosmos for an endless fall. That’s how it really feels and is wonderful.

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The journey takes about an hour, but many may want to get lost in this space for much longer.

The Infinite is the latest brains of Montreal visionaries Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphäel of Félix & Paul Studios, with PHI Studio and in collaboration with TIME Studios.

Lajeunesse and Raphäel put together The Infinite from 250 hours of content in the space of their series Space Explorers: The ISS Experience, an Emmy nominee in exceptional interactive programming.

Both have long been recognized as the creators of the world’s most innovative virtual reality experiences. And they’ve come a long way since dazzling viewers at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where they presented three productions: Strangers with Patrick Watson, with the ever-intriguing Montreal musician singing in his studio; Wild: The Experience, featuring footage of Jean-Marc Valleé’s outdoor epic starring Reese Witherspoon; and Herders, focused on some cheerful Mongolian yak herders.

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They’ve worked with everyone, from Barack and Michelle Obama to LeBron James to the Bills: Clinton and Murray.

But The Infinite is his boldest adventure to date.

Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael, founders of the success of the Montreal virtual reality company Felix & Paul.
Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael, founders of the success of the Montreal virtual reality company Felix & Paul. Photo by Dave Sidaway /Montreal Gazette files

So where could they go from here? On the moon, on Mars and beyond, I speculate.

“Not a bit,” say the smiling Lajeunesse and Raphäel almost in unison, as they kept track at Arsenal.

In 2018, they designed and built the technology that brought their cameras into space.

“Our heads and hearts were in space, but it was ten international astronauts who sent us the cameras while we coordinated,” Lajeunesse says.

“Immersive media is still such an evolving territory and we have been exploring it for years. And now we’re trying to go further and further to try to turn these adventures into experiences accessible to the whole family. “

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“By the time we had our first immersive experience with Patrick Watson in 2013, we knew that space was where we needed to go with this technology,” Raphäel says.

As always, in the ethos of Star Trek, “space: the final frontier.”

They began working with NASA in 2015 at Space Explorers.

“The goal was to learn the ropes with NASA, gain the trust and finally go into space (our cameras anyway) with them. This is just a step in a broader context that will continue. for years, ”says Lajeunesse.

“But all this is really about humanity as a whole. Bring millions of people into space and take advantage of virtual reality and immersive media to do so, ”says Raphäel. “Except it’s less risky that way.”

Any desire to head into space themselves?

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“The emotional truth is yes, but the practical truth is I don’t go there,” Lajeunesse says.

Accountants Raphäel: “I think it’s too early to say no. But for now, I’m happy to go the distance. “

It is still very good.

Bill Brownstein of the Montreal Gazette says that infinity is really weird and wonderful.
Bill Brownstein of the Montreal Gazette says that infinity is really weird and wonderful. Photo of John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

AT ONCE: The Infinite opens Wednesday and runs through November 7 at the Arsenal Art Contemporary Montreal, 2020. Tickets for William St. they start at $ 35. To place an order, visit theinfiniteexperience.com.

[email protected]

twitter.com/billbrownstein

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