#1138: “The Miracle Basket” has a DIY Punk Aesthetic with Solid Storytelling about Our Relationship to the Earth

The Miracle Basket is the perfect example for why you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover as it’s a really well-told story behind what director Abner Preis calls a DIY Punk aesthetic that he describes as looking like it may have been drawn by a child. There are some 3D models in his piece, but there are a whole lot more 2D images that are collaged throughout a space in order to create a 2.5D experience that still manages to create a sense of place.

The story moves from being connected to community and nature into a more disassociated place of pop culture spectacle and party, but in a way that is not in right relationship to the earth. We’re left to clean up the mess and to try to find our center again by planting seeds. There are catchy songs that bookend the experience, and overall it’s a really polished experience with a story that stuck with me. Preis is able to create a communal sense of ritual and belonging with this low-fi punk aesthetic, and it’s a really good reminder that not every experience has to have the same polished look and feel.

Preis’ piece brings a much appreciated DIY and punk attitude that serves to democratize the medium and make it feel a lot more accessible for folks to tell immersive stories that might otherwise be too intimidated by the 3D pipeline of modern game engines. Definitely try to catch this piece as hopefully it’ll become more widely available at some point as it’s festival run is coming to an end, and tune into our conversation as he unpacks his journey into creating immersive stories like The Miracle Basket.

The Miracle Basket Trailer from Institute of Time on Vimeo.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. It's a podcast that's looking at the structures and forms of immersive storytelling and the future of spatial computing. You can support me on Patreon at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So in today's episode, we're covering the Miracle Basket, which was out of competition at Venice Immersive 2022. There's a way in which things that are in competition need to be an international premiere or world premiere. The Miracle Basket had already made its rounds through the festival circuit, so it wasn't eligible for competition. But I thought it was a really, really strong piece, and I really quite enjoyed it. It's a surprising piece in some ways because the aesthetics are so different than the depth of the story that's being told. So the creator Abner has this whole, what he calls a punk aesthetic, which is a lot of just 2D images that are all jammed into an immersive experience. And there are some 3D models, but for the most part, you have this spatial context generated from this 2.5D collage process. And it's got this DIY feeling to it that, you know, after you watch it, it feels a little inspiring because you're like, wow, I could make something like this. But of course, there's all these other dimensions of the sound production and all their production quality here that is just a really solid production and I just really quite enjoyed the message here of our relationship to the earth around us and having different elements of pop culture and the spectacle and ways in which that we get seduced into participating in the distractions or also being in right relationship to the world around us. And ways to kind of remediate that through planting seeds there at the end So that's a miracle basket and that's what we'll be unpacking more on today's episode of the voices of vr podcast So this interview with abner happened on sunday september 4th 2022 So with that let's go ahead and

[00:01:59.087] Abner Preis: Dive right in. My name is Abner Price and I am a storyteller who uses XR, virtual reality, augmented reality, to tell stories that I typically write myself.

[00:02:16.627] Kent Bye: Awesome. And maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into making AR and VR pieces. OK.

[00:02:23.609] Abner Preis: I come from fine art and building installations or multi-screen projections. So my progression from sculpture and multi-screen installations really led towards, first of all, using 360 films, sort of immerse. the viewer and then later on it became into more spatial virtual reality interactive pieces. So before I was introduced to virtual reality my idea was always to involve the audiences if they are the center of my work. But now in VR I can really make them the center of the work.

[00:03:06.709] Kent Bye: And what was the catalyst for you to decide after you've seen a VR experience that made you want to make VR for yourself? So was there a specific experience or a moment that had you make that turn?

[00:03:18.479] Abner Preis: Well, I was working on a project as an actor in a 360 project of a friend of mine. And the idea that the viewer was actually in the heart of the performance. So it was actually six people riding in a train. Camera was in the middle of the train, you know, the cubby, the bin, whatever. And it blew me away that you could immerse yourself in the middle of it and look around and get a taste of each person. So I started to really dislike the idea that films were made by a director who was behind the camera, who sort of directed your point of view. So I just love the fact that I didn't have to be in the middle of it. I mean that I didn't have to be behind it and that the person watching it could be the focal point. You know, I think that oftentimes in museums, you know, we are looking at a famous artwork done by somebody else. This really bothered me because I really believe that if we appreciated our own beauty, if we considered ourselves to be the holy object, then we would look at ourselves a lot differently. So instead of like going to the church or the museum and looking up at the hero, I sort of thought that the viewer is the hero or the beautiful object. So VR really, at least in my work, I put the viewer in the center. So you're not, you're a part of the performance. You're not looking at something from behind, let's say a camera or a screen.

[00:05:00.450] Kent Bye: Yeah, and so given all your background in sculpture and these multi-channel video installations and all these influences that you're pulling in, what was the beginning of this project, Miracle Basket, that's showing here at Venice, Immersive 2022?

[00:05:15.250] Abner Preis: Well, the beginning is pretty much about living on this planet and realizing that shit's going down, you know, but we have a choice. There is hope in the future, so the journey from the innocence of the jungle village to the moment where, let's say, extraterrestrial influences such as specific characters, you know, like the Kardashians and the Beatles and religion and capitalism and plastic bottles. When the spaceship made of these things comes down and destroys the Earth, which in a way you could say is a reflection of our daily life, But the point is, is once the world has been destroyed, the villagers, we actually, find a miracle basket and we're able to learn from the past and plant towards a better future. So, I mean, it's really a work about the form of humanity from the beginning to hopefully the end, which means that we're going to try to at least help instead of living in this world of desperation and fear.

[00:06:28.622] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that gives a good context for the overall story and vibe of the story that you're telling here. And I guess when you're starting to actually create a project like this, do you begin with the script or you start to build the world or, you know, there's a lot of music and songs in there. And so maybe you could talk about that alchemical process of bringing it together. How do you start? Where do you begin in that process? And how do you start to layer each of those segments on top of each other as you're iterating and building this out?

[00:06:56.016] Abner Preis: Well, as obvious as it might sound, I always start with the story. And the story is very simple. I mean, you experience that it's literally a little boy being told by his grandfather the story of the village that he grew up in. I think the whole story is about a page and a half. The whole experience lasts 15 minutes. So, knowing that it starts with a village in some land, some forest, and then goes towards contemporary times and then towards the future. Then what I'll do is I'll make a decision of what is the forest going to be made out of. So then I do research and I look into extinct flora and fauna and I choose beautiful images of extinct flora faunas from There's several thousand drawings from open source museum collections. So we then take those and then we turn them into PNGs and then we import them. So even this lush forest is actually made out of research that we did about extinct flora and fauna. So although we don't talk about it in the story, the layers that I chose are very much based on that part of the story. Like I mentioned, you know, when the spaceship comes down and the Kardashians, etc. come out of the spaceship, I'm using contemporary imagery, which I believe might or might not have an influence on the situation that we're into. When, you know, after the party and, you know, the whole earth is scorched and there's garbage on the floor, I'm using contemporary plastic bottles, you know, just like all the cliches of, unfortunately, it's true, of what is clogging the ocean, plastic TVs, et cetera, these non-biodegradable thing. So that story lends to the visual. And then finally when we plant the seeds and the new forest grows I'm using again images of also flora and fauna that it's reintroduced so it's not native flora and fauna so I'm using images of flora and fauna that have been reintroduced as opposed to like a reaction by science to try to sort of like we are told that this is what's going to make the world better. So it comes from the story, but then the story lends to the visual, and then we create the work. Another thing that's really important is that during this experience, you're having actions that are lending as well to the story. So in the beginning, when the birds and the butterflies land on your fingers, you know that when you put your finger up, literally a bird will land on it or a butterfly will land on it. So there you are touching nature. When we are having the party before the aliens arrive, you're playing the drums, so then there's the spiritual part of it. Then, when the alien spaceship comes down, money starts dropping from the sky, and you can grab the money, and it explodes. Then, afterwards, when the world is destroyed, and you find the miracle basket, which is the idea with the seeds, and then you throw the seeds, you plant new plants. So, it's really, even the actions are really, and then again, when the world has regrown, not quite to the ancient force that it was, but to a better condition, some butterflies come back and land on your finger. And it's fun. You can dance in that performance. So it uses a lot of humor. I hope it sounds like, you know, I doubt it sounds like it's very funny, but it's dealing with a shitty situation in a funny way.

[00:10:27.177] Kent Bye: Well, if people were to see the art style and the aesthetic, I think there's kind of a kitschy, like satirical or low fidelity is one way I would describe it. Because there's almost like a lot of, like you said, images. So I don't know how many 3D models are. I kind of have a blurred memory of it. But there's definitely a lot of images that are 2D that are spaced around to give this kind of 2.5D effect that gives a sense of vastness in the spatial architecture of the space. But were there actually any 3D models in this piece?

[00:10:55.372] Abner Preis: Yeah, there are 3D models like the grass, etc., but because it's such a heavy, there's so many images inside. And there's not models, because everything is hand-drawn. So I hand-draw everything, so I'm hardly using, just at the end we use some like pre-existing assets. But, you know, the thing also about like garbage and about like consumer objects, you know, like elements of consumerism, like candy and, you know, the things that the plastic bottles and stuff. I mean, inherently, a bag of Skittles is very beautiful. You know, it's like colorful and it's rainbow like so adding layering the hell, you know, when the earth is all scorched and you look down on the floor and there's like Snickers and pizza and McDonald's and etc. These are really, actually beautiful, colorful things. So I guess it all is a matter of context. I mean, if a child doesn't look in the grocery store at a bag that looks like poop, A child is going for the bag that looks super friendly and butterfly-y and skittle-y and, you know, rainbow-y. So that also is a statement about, like, you know, what messages are we receiving by the colors and the objects that we get. So, you know, I like to say that darkness isn't always dark. You know, to tell a dark story, it doesn't mean you have to do it dark. You know, I'm telling a dark story but with over-exaggeration of this, like, this rainbow world that we walk into every time we go into a grocery store.

[00:12:23.145] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's kind of like a neon, flashy, vapor wave. What are the words that you use to describe the aesthetic of this piece?

[00:12:30.934] Abner Preis: I call it sort of like punk, you know, I call it like nothing is good, you know, nothing is... the characters look silly, you know, it's just... it's me, I'm wearing a mo-cab, so all the dancing is me, so it's just like awkward 50-year-old fool, you know, even the grandmother, the little kid, they're all dancing because I'm doing the dancing. So what's the aesthetic? The aesthetic is the kind of work that if you look at it, you say, I could do that. And that's really my message. And I guess it's hard to say for the non-viewer, of course, we're in the audio sort of world right now, but just imagine a child's drawings done by a punk or something.

[00:13:15.579] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that was the thing that I really enjoyed about this piece, because if you were to just judge the experience based upon how it looks of the art style, the layer of story and the depth of meaning of what you're communicating was like, it was almost like a contrast that really hit me even more because it was surprising about where it was going because I didn't know where it was going to go or what the journey you were going to take me on but I thought it was a really well-told story actually and that there was also a musical component that I thought was also really helped to bookend the experience and I'm wondering at what point did the music start to get developed and put into this piece?

[00:13:48.863] Abner Preis: Yeah, the music really grew with the visuals. So the story and all the songs, you know, there's like, thank you for the sun. Thank you for the moon. Thank you for the food that keeps our stomach full. And then you have the next song where it's like, oh, give me more, more. Oh, Gucci. Yeah. French fries. Oh, ketchup. You know, so it's like, and then again, we go back into this like dark, like somber when the world is ending, you know, it's like screaming and, you know, cello, you know, cello always inherently is the most depressing instrument in the world. And then we come back to the thank you for the moon, for the sun, for the food. So the music really works in quite a funny way. It tells a story in itself, you know,

[00:14:33.380] Kent Bye: Well, it's catchy. I found myself kind of humming it to myself as I was walking around. I was left with it because it begins and ends with that. And the experience I had of it actually at the beginning and end was that I was actually a part of a community ritual. Once it was, you know, this ability to be able to recreate that sense of being in a group and that there was this sense of being in communal relationship with these other characters and you're playing the drum and connected to them in a way that you're in a circle. So I think there's something really powerful about being in a group and then you with the spaceship that comes in that is I think really reflective of a lot of your other installation art of something like this beautiful juxtaposition of all the representations symbolically of our pop culture and the some of the worst aspects of that mindless consumer behavior that is Destroying the ecology in a lot of ways. So this beautiful object that's coming down. But yeah, just the sense of being in this world I'm really feeling present in it in an odd way. That was surprising to me But I love the ability to feel like I was a part of a communal ritual there at the beginning

[00:15:33.794] Abner Preis: I mean, you're a part of the ritual, you're a part of the party, but you're also a part of the destruction. And that's the point, and that's what I'm saying about keeping you in the center of the piece. Like, when you're dancing, we're all dancing, but we're dancing on the earth that is scorched. And you don't know that you're like, woo, yeah, you know, let's go, party time. And then when the next scene comes around, you're like, oh. I was a part of this party that destroyed the earth. Yeah, I think that giving the opportunity to feel like we are a part of the problem, but as well a part of the solution, that's the basics of the story.

[00:16:09.887] Kent Bye: Awesome, and I kind of walked away from this piece. It was kind of left, it was in the best of selection, because where was the first place that this showed?

[00:16:17.833] Abner Preis: It was shown in Scenic Kid and also in DocLabs in Amsterdam, and then also in New Image and Bell Docs, so it's it's gotten quite a bit of exposure.

[00:16:29.961] Kent Bye: Yeah, I kind of missed it from those other festivals so I'm glad that it was curated here as a part of that and it was a really nice surprise to kind of be transported into this and the thing you said earlier about like it's in a art style that when people watch it they think oh, I can do that. And I think it's a piece that I watch and be like, oh, well, what kind of story would I want to tell with this kind of like, like I think in some ways shows that you don't have to have like a super high poly art with hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to produce it, but that you can really do it on a budget. And this kind of punk VR aesthetic, I think is really inspiring in a lot of ways.

[00:17:04.475] Abner Preis: I mean, fortunately, we had quite a bit of money to make it, but that certainly doesn't mean that that has to affect my aesthetic, you know? So this wasn't a shoestring project, you know? I mean, we put a lot of, you know, there's mo-cab, and there's all these sort of other fancy talk, but the point is, is that, you know, for something to look good, I guess it's wonderful that you say that, because first of all, it means for something to look good doesn't mean you need to have a lot of money. But also, if you have a lot of money, it doesn't mean it has to look good. So, which I know a lot of people say, you spent that much money on that shit? Well, I'm not pretending, you know what I mean? My work consistently looks the same. And it took me many years to get to the point of confidence where I could actually feel good about my punk style. And I think it sticks out. Visually, it certainly is different.

[00:17:57.777] Kent Bye: Yeah, is it one of the experiences that really stuck with me in terms of the because it's also just a very Timely story. I mean we're living in it. And so I'm wondering if you could reflect on how to shake people out of this complacency of unconsciously walking into disaster and so what a piece or a story like this could do in terms of giving an embodied ritual for people to go through to start to reflect upon this moment in time that we are and and how immersive storytelling in a piece like this can start to affect some sort of change.

[00:18:31.681] Abner Preis: Well, I think the idea of hopelessness, which is something that we are constantly being slammed or shoved down in our throat, you know, that there's nothing that we can do. I think by just giving a little bit of hope, about the environment, you know, regardless of, it's hard. It's really hard when we see the droughts and the water and these sort of things. It's fucked up. I mean, we know this, but are we going to fight on our legs or are we going to go down and drown on our knees or windle away? So whatever I can do, I just want to say that one little seed can make a difference.

[00:19:10.069] Kent Bye: Yeah, that seed metaphor is really powerful because you have a basket of seeds and I found it a pretty fun mechanic to actually pick up those seeds and throw them in the ground. And when they land in the ground, you have these different flowers pop up. And so it's a big basket and there's a lot of seeds. And so yeah, it's a fun mechanic.

[00:19:24.848] Abner Preis: You can baseball it, you know, it's like you can really throw them pretty far if you want to. It's actually something that I do, that seed thing, is something I do in several works. So my producer laughs. He says that everything that you're going to do from this point on is going to have to have you make growing seeds, planting seeds. So I'll be the seed guy. I'll take it.

[00:19:44.916] Kent Bye: And also in the beginning, as you were recounting how you're entering into the space, it also is a really fun mechanic to hold up your hand and the fingers out and have a hummingbird or a butterfly land on your finger. And I guess I hadn't realized through the course of the piece that that goes away and then it comes back. And so there's a way in which that there's some representation in the piece of the wildlife and ecosystem as being impacted by these behaviors. Is that something that you had built in to try to give a subtle clue that there's kind of a dwindling of some of this relationship to the animal life around us?

[00:20:16.143] Abner Preis: Absolutely. And that's why in the beginning when the butterfly or the, you know, just to explain, you'll push a button and then that button will attract a butterfly to your finger in the virtual world. So you become a part of nature in that point. So that's sort of how that interaction is reflected in the beginning of nature. We are a part of nature. Just like during the party when you're dancing and raving and catching the money, you're a part of the destruction. So again, we are a part of the ecosystem that we live in. And it's important to remember that. And that's sort of what that represents. And the hummingbirds don't come back at the end, but some butterflies do. And those butterflies are actually butterflies that we chose because we use the images and we put them on top of already existing animations. So many of the butterflies are in fact extinct butterflies that we use to bring back.

[00:21:12.780] Kent Bye: Yeah, I hadn't realized when I was watching the experience how much research that you had done to be able to create almost a going back in time and creating an archival representation of an ecosystem that is now extinct. And so, yeah, now that I think about that, it's really another dimension of going back in time and giving people an experience of something that we've lost already. It's not made clear, I don't think, in that piece, but I think hearing about it, it's kind of interesting to reflect upon that.

[00:21:41.766] Abner Preis: You know what I mean? I only had so much time. Also, it's important to mention that we have an educational toolkit, so we're able to use this educational toolkit as you can see the plants, the flora and the fauna, which no longer exist. Also, when the aliens come off, They have boa constrictors and goats, which are really destructive creatures. Who would have thought it, but goats are probably the most destructive creature. When the pirates would bring them to an island where there was no animal that would eat the goat, the goat would just ravage the flora. So we don't know, but we don't have time to really express that. Yeah, you have to make a choice. My stories are simple. And to really, of course, now that we have the opportunity to talk about it, I can explain these things. But I don't want to create a work which is more scientific than it is emotional. So my objective was to be more emotional. I appreciate you realizing that. Now it makes me think maybe there should be a further explanation of why these plants, whatever, are used. But they're beautiful regardless.

[00:22:58.451] Kent Bye: Yeah, I guess a theme that I'm getting out of the Venice Immersive 2022 this year is the transmedia nature of presentations of these stories. And, you know, we're next to Chroma 11, you watch a film before you watch the piece. And so, and then Mrs. Benz, there's a VR piece, but it's made into a film and a podcast series. And so there's ways in which that you take a story and depending on the media, you're able to start to really tap into different dimensions of that. You know, it wouldn't make sense to have a didactic, you know, explanation of all the plants because you're immersed as an embodied experience. It's much more interesting for you to be present to what's happening for your own experience. But something like a film or something else may be better suited to be able to dive into some of those other aspects.

[00:23:37.487] Abner Preis: Yeah you know I often work with museums and what my biggest thing before I start the project I start to tell them VR is going to be a part of the educational formula because technically speaking you have a museum that has a large audience chances are you're not going to have the opportunity to hang up 50 headsets. So, how are you able to tell and to educate? Well, there are side things that you can, because while you're waiting, you can pick up something and you can learn something. So, for me, virtual reality is a tool that we use to tell a story, but for me, it doesn't mean that it's the only part, because experiential education, which is the way that I always learn, had more things to do than just, you know, either looking in a book, drawing a book, etc. It's much more of an ecosystem of education. So, you know, it's wonderful when you're able to do it. And I really liked Mrs. Ben's. I thought it was a great story because it's simple and easy to use. It's a wonderful story, simply in the best way. So I think that to tell a story you need oftentimes, especially in this day and age, where most of the information I receive is very fast through Facebook or Instagram or whatever, media, you know, giving the opportunity, an exciting opportunity for people to learn in a new way. And VR is just cool, you know, it doesn't matter what you're looking at. It's like a crow to silk. I've had people waiting in line to experience VR, regardless of whoever's work it is. It's an opportunity for us to do something that younger generation and older generation And I've been blown away with older people, and I'm talking like grandparents, you know, people that have no idea about technology, but somehow they're really able to connect. So I think it's, I really, you know, phones are complicated, but putting on a headset is very easy, you know, because, you know, if you keep it simple.

[00:25:33.084] Kent Bye: Yeah, you mentioned the educational materials. What are those educational materials and in what context are you able to deliver those?

[00:25:40.328] Abner Preis: Well, like I said with the Miracle Basket, we made a toolkit, an educational toolkit. We're using the United Nations sustainability. and breaking those down about extinct flora, extinct fauna, invasive species. You know, you can really talk about those and connect it to the work. So there's a lot of space, you know, even drawing, you know, or writing, like, we have a thing, it's like, if you have a message for the future, what would it be? You know, write it down. So there's just very small, clearly educational aspects like the United Nations. But another thing that's important to discuss is that we worked very hard on making this not a fear factor sort of work, because children nowadays are really suffering from fear of the climate change. And in fact, we put the pressure on them to be the future of the world, where in fact, us as parents or whoever, as adults, we are the ones that have to make the change, not the children. So that's also something to think about. Whose responsibility is it? Is it mine as a car owner and a private jet flying person? Or is it my kid who just wants to live in a peaceful place? This work is not about fear, and I think that's important. It's about hope. It's got a lot of, like, shitty elements to it, you know, in the state of mind that we're in, but it's telling a dark story in a bright way.

[00:27:11.687] Kent Bye: Yeah, I really get that and you know when the ET spaceship of pop culture comes down I realized that there's a lot of ways that those symbols and I recognized a lot of those symbols maybe not all of them but it was enough to kind of get a gist of what it was but I'm reminded of how in VR it's a little bit of using the Dream logic symbols of like how sometimes those symbols are personal symbols that have meaning for you sometimes they're cultural symbols that are for community or like they're more universal symbols that everybody would get and I Imagine if you were to take this experience and take it in time like 200 years I'm not sure if people would be able to recognize all those symbols that are very contemporary. We kind of know what they are now and Or if someone's from another culture, they may not be identifying with who each of these different people are. They're just not exposed to them. So I'm wondering if you could reflect on your piece in terms of the level of symbolism that you're using and how to navigate this dream logic way of using the language of symbols in your work.

[00:28:06.920] Abner Preis: Well, like the research that I was telling you about the flora and the fauna, I also tried to find the top 10 most famous people from every continent. So I don't know what continent you live on, you know, like, I don't know if you saw there's that guy who did that. you know, the K-pop, you know what I mean? And then there's like, you know, there's so many, I don't know, I think there's like 200 heroes. So I think, heroes, quote unquote. So I tried my best to get a pop culture character from around the world. And it's really fun to do that research as well, you know? So from the Middle East to Africa to South Africa, you know, to like South America, North America. So there's enough pop,

[00:28:51.556] Kent Bye: That and you know, of course you look at who you know So you who did you see you maybe like the Kardashians and you know, and there's I don't I don't remember Yeah, the beetle in that but but there's there's actually like almost an overwhelm of all these characters I can't take the time to look at all of them They're just kind of like moving around and stuff, but I did notice that I was recognizing some but not all but it made me think about how what you're saying with those and these people if you were from another planet and you're coming and seeing that you may not know the Significance of what's trying to be said but there is a way in which that you're connecting the meaning of what those images are With a way of people understanding it and so that's what I mean with this kind of dream logic where you're able to you know Have your own level of symbolic fluency that you're able to use as a way of the grammar of this as a medium Yeah, that's

[00:29:38.591] Abner Preis: That's exactly right. And a lot of those visuals, regardless of your knowledge of who or what is, when somebody is screaming, like, you know, Chef Gordon Ramsay is screaming, you can see the mouth wide open and you're screaming, you're thinking, well, maybe that's not the nicest person, you know, or, you know, so there's, it goes, I don't know what it would be like in 200 years, but I don't think McDonald's is going anywhere. So I think that'll be a,

[00:30:06.479] Kent Bye: We'll see. Everything has a lifetime, a beginning, a middle, and an end. So you never know. Maybe we can hope in the future, in 200 years, that we don't know what McDonald's is. It's hard to tell. Maybe that's a sign of success.

[00:30:17.712] Abner Preis: That's the piece. The piece is about learning from the past to make a better future. And in the new world, at the end of the work, when you're floating above the planet, It's run, you know, it's like solar energy, spaceships, and all this sort of stuff. So I do hope that the spaceship that comes down, regardless of who is on it, you know, this E.T., this pop culture nightmare, we learn from that to a better future. So I think that's the point. So thank you so much.

[00:30:47.473] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive storytelling might be and what it might be able to enable?

[00:30:57.138] Abner Preis: Well, I think that the future of XR per, you know, I think that augmented reality, which is accessible on your phone, I think that that has really wonderful potential. I also think that virtual reality but you know it's headed into inside out so you can actually see the world around you while adding new sort of elements so I think that the virtual world is already playing a huge part in our life even if we know it or if we don't know it the pandemic I've been incredibly busy in my studio because the word virtual, virtual conversations, virtual meeting has been on everybody's lips. So I guess to sort of like pigeonhole it into masks or glasses or that sort of form, I think that we are clearly living in a virtual world. You know, I heard a philosopher say, I don't remember who it is, but they said something like, the first person, when you get onto your computer, you always get, hello Abner, hello whoever, you know, so we're already greeted by this like virtual character or whatever you know what I mean so I think that we are very already and of course people will say that the Matrix style sort of like ideas but if we just break down our existence to think about what is real and what is not I think we are very much already in a virtual world so where is the future gonna lend us I don't know but I certainly know in the present time if we pay attention we are living increasingly virtually

[00:32:31.977] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community?

[00:32:38.018] Abner Preis: Well, whatever's left of the interview, I don't know if it'll all go in there, but just keep being generous. Keep sharing. It's the most generous community I've ever been a part of. If someone has a question, you type it or you call it, and they're like, this is what I did. So it's beautiful to be a part of such a Fun every day is a new experience and when people experience it's like their eyes are opening to something new so it's like color TV to the future, so just keep being generous and kind and Yeah, that's it

[00:33:13.790] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well Abner, I was really just really enjoyed the experience and just from an emotional storytelling perspective and the embodied experience of it and but also just really inspired by this punk aesthetic that is democratizing the access to this as a medium that makes me think about the different types of stories that I might want to tell in the same kind of like structure that makes it so that you can actually put a lot of different types of information in there and still create a sense of being in a space and a spatial architecture and You know have the power of the story still come through. So thanks for that.

[00:33:46.142] Abner Preis: People would never believe it, but it's fucking easy It's easy Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Thank you.

[00:33:55.466] Kent Bye: Thank you very much and good luck So that was Abner price. He's the creator of the miracle basket, which was showing at Venice immersive 2022. I So I really enjoyed this piece and like I said I'm really quite inspired by this punk aesthetic because it's a 2.5D where you are immersed in the world but it has like this collage like element where because it's so layered you get the sense of being in a spatial context but it's able to bring in lots of different extinct flora and fauna and also all these references to pop culture and ways that he's able to use this kind of symbolic dimensions of meme culture that you're able to use different pop culture references to be able to communicate in different ways. And so there's this whole other symbolic language that's being used and cultivated in this piece as well that I think works quite well in the context of VR and talk to a number of different creators about this dimensions of symbolic communication. And yeah, just really killer songs and overall just really solid storytelling and just really quite enjoyed the piece. And it was surprising because as you look at it, it's a piece that I had different expectations going in. I just was really blown away by the piece at the end and just really quite enjoyed it. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

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