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Visual Experience Takes Audiences Through the Looking Glass

In conjunction with wonder.land, a new musical being staged at London's National Theatre, Tobey Coffey had the idea to offer a companion digital exhibition that would play up the themes of the show.

In conjunction with wonder.land, a new musical being staged at London’s National Theatre that puts a contemporary spin on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, National Theatre head of digital Tobey Coffey had the idea to offer a companion digital exhibition that would play up the themes of the show. The installation enter wonder.land, designed by creative technology studio Play Nicely, explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives. It uses performance visuals from the wonder.landstage production that were created by 59 Productions.

The central piece of enter wonder.land is the five-minute VR installation “fabulous wonder.land,” which can be thought of as a music video experienced through an Oculus Rift headset. Audiences explore the 360-degree landscape of wonder.land as all around them the hypnotic garden scene sways and pulses to the sound of “fabulous,” one of Damon Albarn’s songs from the play.

From “fabulous wonder.land”

Another element of enter wonder.land is “walk in wonder.land,” a Microsoft Kinect-based interactive experience that allows audiences a narrative immersion with minimal physical overhead. Audience members simply walk up to a screen and see themselves in a magical garden, with no technology or restrictions. Once in this luminous landscape, users will discover that they can interact with elements in the foreground to generate visual and audio responses.

enter wonder.land also includes “catface,” an augmented reality face-tracking experience presented on several screens; an avatar creator that allows audiences to assemble their own avatar and share it via Facebook and Twitter; and a Google Cardboard home VR experience for iOS and Android.

“We love surprising an audience, and we find that doing so increases the power of the message or narrative,” says Oliver Lindsey, Play Nicely director. “The challenge was to create an entirely new audience experience beyond the auditorium, which allows visitors to feel physically part of the wonder.land world.”

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