Jane Austin of Persuasion: why virtual reality is more than just a fashion statement

VR is a medium like no other. It’s like no other because, as the pioneering director Chris Milk said at Cannes Lions this year, it is the medium of human experience. “Where film has celluloid and books have ink and paper, VR has human experience,” he said, speaking on stage at the Palais at Samsung’s “VR Creators Experience” session. He added that VR will lead to the democratisation of human experience in same way the internet led to the democratisation of information.”

To say there is a lot of talk at Cannes this year about VR is something of an understatement. This is the year of VR, we are being told, repeatedly. It’s understandable that the more something is talked about, the more some people will want to tune out. But if grand statements from those at the forefront aren’t getting through, then some of the ground breaking work that is being done in VR should. Work such as “Growing Up Girl” (below) showing a day in the life of a young girl who lives on the border of Tanzania and Kenya; “Vice News VR: Millions March”, which drops you right in the middle of a rally of 60,000 protesters on the streets of New York; and “Before They Pass Away” a VR documentary getting you up close and personal with the world’s dying tribes, from Mongolian reindeer herders to the Massai.

If the work isn’t doing it for you – after all it is a new medium that relatively few of of the global populace have actually experienced – perhaps this idea will help elevate VR in the minds of the doubters. If Salvador Dali was still alive he would most certainly be at the forefront of this medium.

Facebook Creative Shop global creative director Andrew Keller reminded the audience at the Samsung VR session that Dali, who continually experimented with different visual media and even worked with holograms towards the end of his life, would be a VR advocate. “There is no question that he would have been working in VR if he was alive today,” D’Arcy said. With this in mind, Facebook and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners created the Dreams of Dali Experience allowing people to immerse themselves in Dali’s dreamlike landscapes. The notion that one of the world’s most imaginative and experimental artists, the man who created the lobster phone, would have made VR his own, is surely one good reason to not to get jaded on the subject of VR just yet.

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