Virtual Reality, Real Benefits
Introducing a shared experience called VVVR, where the goal is transcendence, and the only controller is your voice. Do you live near San Francisco? Sign up to participate in a demo.
The Timeless Challenge of Being Present in the Moment
While VVVR is not a meditation practice, and does not attempt to imitate or replace traditional approaches, there are shared traits.
Transcendental Meditation defines as its purpose:
“Allowing your active thinking mind to settle down to a state of deep inner calm.”
The Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, says of Zen meditation,
“Learn to practice breathing in order to regain control of body and mind.”
The goal of VVVR is similar:
To bring your mind into the present moment.
One of the tactics VVVR employs may feel familiar to those of you who have experience with traditional meditation practices. VVVR uses your voice as the catalyst, employing audio effects to transform the natural sounds you make into ambient digital sounds. Participants hear each other, and adjust and harmonize accordingly. In Transcendental Meditation, the repetition of a sound (mantra) is the catalyst. In Zen Meditation, the focus is on breathing is a catalyst.
But VVVR also satiates your active mind with visual rewards that serve not as background, but a fluid environment that you control. The purpose of the visual activity is as a prompt, designed to transport you into the present — to help you shed your active mind (your ego).
Does it Work?
We are seeing participants experience muscle relaxation and slower, deeper breathing. Without real effort, people tell us that they feel more relaxed and playful after VVVR.
VVVR is not a game. It’s not entertainment, either. It is a new social system that blends fantasy and reality to foster ego-free communication with real people, in a space beyond words. Not only do you create a work of ephemeral art together — you also bond with people in a new context.
Unlike the digital networks in today’s Internet, VVVR does not provide a way to share messages, photos, or videos. There is no profile. But like a sport or group yoga, it is a shared, in-the-moment experience.
Can a measure of happiness be achieved just by participating in nonverbal activities with other people? Perhaps it can. Today, VVVR is a two-person experience. But all of the major VR platforms are working on tools that make it easier to extend the experience to a larger group — VVVR envisions creating group experiences.
What Will VVVR Become?
Help us move the project forward. Today, VVVR is available only as a site installation at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood. It’s a two-person experience — you can bring a friend, or come by yourself and meet somebody new. Sign up here to participate. We ask for $3 as a small insurance policy that you will show up at the reserved time. For additional information about VVVR, email email@example.com.
About the Team
Ray McClure is a developer and artist producing work that exists at the intersection of interactive visual art and audio synthesis. Recent creations include PollySynth, a multiplayer polyphonic synthesizer, and projects for Google and EA. As an artist-in-residence at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Ray exhibited a multi-sensory virtual reality experience titled Amazing Grace and Computers. He was recently a participant at the Convergence Residency in Banff, Canada, together with Casey. Ray was one of the original developers at Twitter in 2005, 2006.
Casey McGonagle is an interdisciplinary artist working in video installation and virtual reality. He holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the Yale School of Art. He is the recipient of the John Ferguson Weir Award, The Endsley Memorial Fellowship, The World Less Travelled Grant. Casey was also a participant in the recent Convergence Residency in Banff, Canada, together with Ray.