One of the most visceral experiences I had at Sundance New Frontier this year was Marshmallow Laser Feast’s Sweet Dreams, which incorporated taste as part of the narrative in a surrealist virtual reality story world called Luscious Delicious Land. Marshmallow Laser Feast is known for exploring the multimodal nature of the sensory experience with exploring the perceptual perception of insects with In the Eyes of an Animal and exploring the use of smells in Tree Hugger.
I had a chance to talk with director & Marshmallow Laser Feast co-founder Robin McNicholas and producer Nell Whitley right after experiencing Sweet Dreams. It was absolutely fascinating to see what aspects of the experience stuck with me, and what I remembered or didn’t remember. It turns out that my lack of memories for aspects of the experience mirrored what they were finding in others, and just how mysteriously powerful taste can be within immersive experiences. In debriefing my experience afterwards, I was able to recall specific memories associated with taste in the process of conversation about it, but during the actually experience it was almost as if the creators were starting to paint with an invisible palette of a matrix of unconscious memories and associations that I had with these tastes. What that looks like and how to best do that in the service of a narrative goal turns out to be a VERY hard problem as we explore in this conversation.
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