On July 17th, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine killing all 298 on board. This has been huge news in the Netherlands, and when someone asked writer Lisa Weeda with family from Ukrane if she felt guilty, then she got really angry and inspired to write a story about the crash from the Ukranian point of view. Part of the plane crashed in a sunflower field in Rozsypne, and so she collaborated with co-director Nienke Huitenga-Broeren in transforming a series of scenes and broader context of the ongoing conflict in the region into an immersive virtual reality story.
I had a chance to talk with Weeda and Huitenga-Broeren about their experiential design process of creating Rozsypne, the larger cultural context of Ukrane as a border country caught in the middle of many international power dynamics, their iterative process of translating specific contexts into a series of different scenes, and how they wanted to use VR to put you into the shoes of the Ukranian villagers from Rozsypne who discovered the downed airplane and the loss of life.
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