PacSci Perspectives


Exploring Reality in the Silicon Rainforest

by | Dec 3, 2017

Exploring Reality in the Silicon Rainforest: What immersive experiences can teach us about the world around us.

What is the relationship of virtual reality to the scientific study of time? Space? Matter? Truth? How will new immersive experiences teach us more about ourselves and the world around us? These are some of questions that fearless360º is looking forward to exploring at Pacific Science Center’s new series of experiences called, What Is Reality.

Pacific Science Center and fearless360º are working together to create programming for What is Reality, an experiment in experiences that explores the intersection of XR and the Science Center’s mission of igniting curiosity in every child and fueling a passion for discovery, experimentation, and critical thinking in all of us.

“We’re excited to be returning to Pacific Science Center because this is where we launched our start-up,” says fearless360º program director Gretchen Burger. In June 2016, as part of SIFFX, fearless360º partnered with Pacific Science Center to convert the Laser Dome into an 180º immersive screening venue. Audiences laid down on the floor and were showered by 80 foot images of whales and dolphins (The Click Effect), Pluto’s rugged surface (Pluto’s Frigid Heart), and multiple incarnations of musician Reggie Watts (Waves). “Staring up at the stars is an age old tradition – we wanted to remind the audience of that connection to immersive technology. Virtual reality is just a new expression of experiences we’ve been seeking since ancient times”, explains Burger. Learn more about the historic event in this short video:

fearless360º is a start-up collective of artists, educators, and media makers who specialize in creating educational immersive experiences for general audiences. Over the past year fearless360º has produced Virtual Reality festivals, workshops, and even a mobile media lab, VRVe (Virtual Reality Re-Creational Vehicle), to engage in conversations about what these technologies are and how they could transform our lives – from entertainment and delight to solving our most pressing problems.

“We are looking to broaden the conversation beyond just hardware and software,” says fearless360º creative director Sandy Cioffi, “to the big question of what this technology means for reality. It’s an open question.”

fearless360º is working to bring together people from as many disciplines – arts, sciences, humanities – as possible to explore the full potential of these tools and experiences. “With the technologies being so new, what’s needed now is getting lots of people in the space to shape the development.”

The heart of this inquiry for fearless360º is what immersive technologies can teach us about being human. “At a moment when machines increasingly shape our lives and machine learning will soon surpass human intelligence, hyper-reality is necessary for us to understand what is next to us in the real world,” said Cioffi. “And we believe the Pacific Northwest, with its rich interests in tech, arts and culture, is the place to do it. We want to capitalize on our riches of talent, resources, culture and pioneering spirit and bring it under one roof to explore and incubate this inquiry together in the Silicon Rainforest.”

What is the Silicon Rainforest? “Silicon Rainforest is part of a narrative that’s very important to us at fearless360º. Silicon Valley a very long time ago wanted to be known as the braintrust of the world where technology would define us. Silicon Beach decided to brand it the place where technology and entertainment would define us. We are hoping that Seattle will become known as the Silicon Rainforest to grab that place that seems the most important, which is what it means to be human.”

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