Let us say, then, that it is a theater of the mind. The 70-minute production is divided into different segments, some of which are immersive soundscapes and audio performances, and others which are more guided meditations. These are interrupted by three short films that the audience sees through VR headphones.
Majestic gongs and sound waves announce an introspective performance adapted to the imagination of each member of the audience. A narrator speaks to you through a guided visualization where you want to find a field, trees, and your own childhood self before heading out into ethereal realms. Warning: Your mileage may vary. Whether exercise gives you enlightenment or a short nap depends on your own mental performance (my experience drifted closer to a nap). Either way, the segment, which holds “Liminality,” is the most pedantic and least interesting part of the show.
This is more the fault of the script than the technical elements of “Liminality”, which do not disappoint. The sounds are succulent and alien; even the thunder and rain of a storm during an audio segment called “The Doldrums,” about a captain and crew stranded in the ocean, are shown with such a great dimension of sound that I was surprised to find- me still perfectly dry and protected at the conclusion of the scene. The lighting, from the changing hues of the room to the soft beams of the Edison bulbs from the lamps to the ultraviolet light that gave the letters on my T-shirt an iridescent disco glow, is spooky.
But it is the segments based on virtual reality that carry the most. The first virtual reality short film, “Life-Giver,” created by Petter Lindblad and Alexander Rönnberg, follows a family on a journey to catch the last transport ship of a dying post-apocalyptic Earth. The second, “Mind Palace,” written and directed by Carl Krause and Dominik Stockhausen, is a sensual, impressionistic examination of the end of a relationship. The final VR film is “Conscious Existence,” created by Marc Zimmerman in collaboration with MoFE. It is a sumptuously illustrated existential journey through earthly landscapes and the distances of space.
The vitality of the images, combined with the tactile vibrations of the VR device, which produces blockages and earthquakes, make it an experience that combines the immediacy of theater, the visual dialect of cinema and the technological rush of games. It all adds up to a surprisingly immersive feat of building the world: you can watch a sky full of constellations above you or turn around to see how the rubble of a broken Earth stretches to the horizon. (However, members of the public who wear glasses, along with those with a tendency to vertigo, may find this whole Matrix exploration tiring and discomforting.)