There was an immersive dome experience at VRLA called Samskara that was based upon the Hindu Vedas produced by 360art. It featured different Hindu mythological characters reimagined by visionary artist Android Jones. I had a chance to talk to Android about the intriguing backstory of this project that involves a mysterious Swami who is experimenting with the latest immersive technologies as a tool for spiritual transformation.
LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
Android was also publicly debuting Microdose VR for the first time at VRLA, which is a particle-emitting painting program designed for realtime VJ performances or a tool to get into the creative flow state. The experience was informed by Android’s many years doing live art performances at transformational festivals, his experiences within the games industry as a digital artist, as well as inspiration from a number of different psychedelic experiences.
You move your hands around spray painting particles in Microdose VR with a similar mechanic to Tiltbrush, but rather than drawing 3D vector lines your strokes emit a wide range of different psychedelic molecules that morph, evolve and disappear. There’s no ability to save or undo any of your creations, and so it’s like an ephemeral sand painting experience that focuses on the cultivation presence and unlocking creative flow.
Overall, Android wants to bring virtue to virtual reality and believes that it can be a tool for our own evolution. He wants to help evolve a new type of VR artist, and to create tools for the next generation of creatives and democratize the creative experience.
Here’s the trailer for Samskara
Here’s an example of what a performance in Microdose VR looks like
Donate to the Voices of VR Podcast Patreon
Support Voices of VR
[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. My name is Kent Bye and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. On today's episode, I have visionary artist, Android Jones, who had a chance to meet at VRLA, where he was showing a couple of different experiences. One was this immersive dome experience called Samskara, which in essence, they're trying to use VR and immersive technologies as a tool for spiritual transformation. So we'll be hearing more about how Samskara is trying to embed wisdom traditions from the Vedas into a immersive experience, as well as his new venture called Microdose VR, which is his effort to be able to take all the learnings that he's had from doing live performance art at festivals, as well as being a live VJ. And so Android's kind of mixing his unique background in digital art and the gaming industry and blending it with the latest Burning Man visionary transformational culture and kind of bringing a level of psychedelic consciousness into VR and seeing how we could use it as a digital drug to be able to bring more virtue into virtual reality. So that's what we'll be covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. But first, a quick word from our sponsor. Today's episode is brought to you by you, my Patreon supporters. I can't emphasize enough how important having a solid foundation of Patreon support is going to allow me to continue to do the type of independent journalism that I want to do here at The Voices of VR. There's a lot of pressures of trying to maintain access, but at the same time, ask the really hard questions that are not being asked anywhere else. So, that's what I'm committed to here at The Voices of VR, and if you want to see that happen, then donate to my Patreon at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. So this interview with Android Jones happened at VRLA, which was happening at the Los Angeles Convention Center on August 5th and 6th. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:02:11.961] Android Jones: My name is Android Jones. I'm from Boulder, Colorado. And in VR, I've got a project called Samskara. It's a 360 immersive experience for domes and virtual reality headsets. And I also have a project, a more active creative exploration project called Microdose VR.
[00:02:33.013] Kent Bye: Great. So I had a chance to try both of these experiences out here at VRLA and it's in this huge immersive dome experience where when I first started to see it, I was like, wow, this is really like some visionary art here. I was kind of surprised because I haven't seen any content along that vein in VR yet. It was really striking to me. And so when I saw your name, I was like, oh, wow, I've actually heard of Android Jones from kind of the visionary artist scene. And so maybe you could talk a bit about how this project came about and how you got into VR.
[00:03:05.431] Android Jones: Yeah, Slumscar is a really exciting project. It initiated around end of April, March 2015. And the story goes, I got an invite from a gentleman they just called The Swami. And he was this mysterious character that lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand. You know, kind of picture like Marlon Brando from like Apocalypse Now type style. And I heard some rumors from some other people that this guy was really into domes. I've been doing domes and domes at Burning Man and working with Geodesic Structures for a number of years. And he has this dome company and he also had a film company and he wanted to have a meeting like in a week. And I happened to have that weekend open and With my lifestyle, sometimes when things come about that are novel and interesting and somewhat dangerous or unexpected, I usually say, what the hell? So I got on a flight, and I made it out to Thailand, and I met him. And I went to his ashram, which, like I said, it's in rural Thailand by a bamboo forest and a strawberry field. And he has this massive complex. And all of these employees, like maybe 60 people, were there. And they were all very professional. degrees in computer science and animation and compositing and editing and HR. And it was this like, pretty much like a compound, an ashram compound. And they did their puja, they did their praying and their chanting together. And upstairs, they had this like fully set up motion visual art studio, like a studio dome set up. And they had taken some samples of art that I have online I have a lot of pretty decent resolution work out there on Flickr and stuff like that that I share and They took some and they created a small Maybe like two three minute sort of trailer of what they can do within the full dome space and invited me to watch it and I sat down and It was amazing, you know, it was like I saw this new dimension of my work and how they combined different pictures that I would have never imagined combining but made this really cohesive scene. And I pulled out my phone and I just captured like a minute of it, like looking around like, oh, that's cool. Went back. Before I went to bed that night, I did like, I was doing like a post a day at that time. And I figured, okay, this is the Facebook fodder I'm just gonna release before I go to bed and I just posted it went to bed and I woke up the next morning and this post had gotten like I think the first day like as I woke up overnight it got like five six hundred thousand views and in the coming days it like went up to like I think it's over a million maybe two million now I mean it was far and away like the most viral thing that I've ever posted it's a short amount of time and the next morning when I came to meet Swami again I I was like, hey, you're not gonna believe this. Like I posted that little clip of Samskara and everybody is freaking out about it and I got all these posts and he looks at me totally stone-faced and he's just like, well, of course, that's the hand of Krishna. Like, what did you expect to happen? And I was just like, You and me are doing stuff right now. Like, you got me. We're down. And yeah, I gave him probably the most unrestricted access to all of the art I've ever done. I just started compiling a hard drive with every layered file or model or OBJ. And I had another really amazing, and one of the other artists behind Samskara is an artist named Tanya from Russia, and she did Arcadia visuals. And we had worked on some motion graphic projects. She had done some work animating some of my artwork. and done just a spectacular job and so I brought them together and she became the art director and that's pretty much how Samskara started and the philosophy behind it and one of the reasons Swami reached out to me is that he's been building this empire. Full Dome Pro is the name of the studio. They do huge geodesic domes up to 200 feet I'm thinking of like a 90 meter dome somewhere. They do the dome, the construction, they sew all of the covers and the fabric, and they also do the software that does all of the calibration, and they have a content studio. So he's been building this machine. of production and experience and it was finally ready for him to actually do his deeper mission as a... I mean, he's a fully recognized Swami. He was in Russia, was in the military for a while, went to New York. You could do a whole podcast on the life of Gangster Swami. Gangster Swami. It'll make you a mantra you can't refuse, you know? So his goal was to take everything he'd been building, all this technology. He's got guys that just make these amazing 360 virtual cameras inside Cinema 4D. He had really gotten around the whole, like, done a lot for the whole art form of 360. His goal was to be able to take this technology that was really compelling and give someone a powerful, you know, a deep powerful experience and then use that to share the deeper knowledge and stories of the Hindu Vedas, which are like over 7,000 year old stories, the Vedas, the Yoga Sutras, the Upanishads. There's so much amazing wisdom. I mean, the thing, if you read through the Yoga Sutras, my experience and a lot of people's experiences, the knowledge in some of these verses, they are as true today as they ever were. I mean, it feels like they're writing them for everything. We like to think that we're very modern and that our problems are very nuanced and sophisticated. But you realize that through the wisdom of these, that these are the issues that have been plaguing mankind for tens of thousands of years and will continue in the future. And so the Vedas are, it's a group of information that they get a lot of value out of and they wanted to find a way to share that with more people. And they felt that coming up with me and using the artwork that I create as a container would be much more compelling than traditional Hanuman and Ganesha and kind of the Bollywood stuff. Whatever reason Swami was this guy to be like, we're going to reach out to this guy. He's going to be the kind of the cover, like the wrapping. the little irresistible berry and then that's going to introduce people to a deeper form of just wisdom and knowledge and use this as a type of a spiritual technology to, you know, I kind of consider it deprogramming in a way, you know, kind of like unraveling some of the matrix or just something that interrupts the patterns that you have and just opens your mind because it's very subjective in nature. We're definitely not trying to hammer in like an ideology on anybody. It's just about this is something we found has given our lives a lot of value. When it comes to stories and storytelling, it's a story that there's so many people out there that aren't aware of it, that it's a story we found that was worth telling and worth our energy to put into it.
[00:09:46.181] Kent Bye: Wow, that is an incredible story. Wow. So my experience of actually going through, how do you pronounce this? Is it samskara?
[00:09:57.809] Android Jones: So samskara, it's a Sanskrit word. Like a translation would be like a psychological, a deep psychological impression. So it's something that happens in your life that like leaves a mark on the psyche and like the genesis of your identity. you know, a mother or father like passing away is a samskara or the birth of a child is a samskara or a wedding is a samskara. So it's, it can be good or bad, but it's just something very deep, you know, either like a wound or a victory that just leaves its mark on you for the rest of your karma and through your future incarnations.
[00:10:30.008] Kent Bye: Wow, so that whole backstory and deeper meaning that's embedded is a whole lot deeper than I was expecting to receive here at VRLA. My experience of actually seeing it was it felt like a very spiritual experience. It felt like I was immersed, the art was beautiful and immersive and I was in a dome and so it was the first time that I'd really seen a dome content that I was actually really interested in the visuals and the deeper meaning. It was almost like going through a fractal or almost taking a psychedelic trip in some ways of going through the different corners of the mind. but also just kind of breaking down the fabric of reality and trying to unveil something deeper. But there was different turns in there too, where it actually turned really dark and scary. I didn't necessarily pick up that there was a narrative or different symbols that were explicitly connected to any tradition. It sounds like there's a certain trajectory of starting with the light, going to the dark, ending with the light. Is there specific characters that are being played out there?
[00:11:32.424] Android Jones: There are definitely some characters and deities, but a lot of the flow of the story, it's just like a journey through mind and a journey of the soul through like the different levels. Like you kind of go through like there's the subtle level, there's like the material and the political level, and you go kind of down to like the bardos and the deeper levels. and then you kind of come out bursting through the heart of the universe into Shiva's heart. So there is definitely a transition and a journey we want to take people on. Because in keeping with the lineage and the beliefs of the Krishna, this is a world of darkness. We were living in the Kali Yuga, which is the age of darkness, and we've got another 450,000 years of darkness ahead of us. So pretending it's not there doesn't do anybody any good. And this is a world where we are subjected to old age, suffering, death, and disease. And that's just part of the script, you know. And so one of the things I really do love about the stories and the verses and what I've gathered from even just being in India, like you go there, you go to like the burning ghats of Varanasi, like in this culture, there's a very like whitewashedness towards the harder reality of like what life is really all about. And so we definitely didn't want to shy away from that. And we find that through the contrast by going in through some of these darker aspects, it gives a balancing point that we can then like shoot through like the galactic cosmic heart of like Shiva into the universe. Like it makes that more powerful because it increases like the bandwidth in the spectrum of emotion and duality. So we found that's been successful for us.
[00:13:04.371] Kent Bye: And I wasn't at E3 this year, but maybe you could talk about what it was like for you to premiere this very spiritual work into a very technologically oriented culture.
[00:13:15.404] Android Jones: I'll tell you, it's really interesting, just from my perspective, because part of my story is when I graduated art school, and I think in like 2000, I went to work into the games industry. I had an internship at ILM, I worked at Interplay for a year, and then I worked at Retro Studios and Nintendo. building out the whole Metroid Prime franchise for five years. And then I started my own outsourcing studio with a group of friends. So I had a pretty solid decade of video games. And after that decade, like, I left and just, like, burnt all my bridges behind me. You know, my burning bridges, like, lit my way forward. And I kind of swore this whole industry off. So coming back to an E3 and coming back with Samskara, there's a level of irony to that. And I think it's through this immersive technology And a lot of it is actually virtual reality is the other aspect that has gotten me kind of back into this world. It's been seeing what's possible in VR is on one element there's like an irresistible aspect. It's interesting when I look at my career's gone through lots of different stages after I quit video games I kind of ran away with like the festival circus so to speak and started doing live painting at festivals around the world and trans festivals and Burning Man and It's taken all these different turns that I always thought were kind of desperate and kind of nebulous when I look back, but now that I start entering into the VR world, I can almost see all the streams, like, coalescing. All the things I thought I'd never use again from the video game world are all becoming relevant again. and all the experiences I've had in spiritual pilgrimages and putsias and dietas in the Amazon, those are also relative too. So it's a matter of trying to weave all those into something cohesive and ultimately will give some type of value to people that experience it.
[00:15:02.102] Kent Bye: What was it like for you to watch Samskara for the first time in a dome?
[00:15:06.503] Android Jones: That's a great question. It was, we saw it, it was at Fisk Planetarium almost a year ago. I saw it for the first time and it was just a preview. We had just like three scenes rendered out and I'm a slightly critical person when it comes to like aesthetics and I'm incredibly critical of myself. I'm like the worst Android fan out there, you know, like I could see all the mistakes and all the places that I cheated or I cut a corner or I could have gone more. It's not a unique mindset for most artists. But it was one of those moments where I felt it was like seeing like my imagination like inside out. And even like the spherical nature of it was like, wow, this is for the first time I feel like I'm in my paintings in my mind. And when I'm making a painting, the painting, I've been strictly pretty digital since like 96. My mindset around the monitor is like the monitor, it's not a two dimensional surface, but it's really like my window, my creative window, like a freedom into a world. like behind this monitor, that's just my porthole to look out to infinite creative possibilities. And so to see everything in that format, to be surrounded with it, it was a little like beyond mine. It was more detailed than sometimes, you know, imagination, it's, everyone's head works different, but sometimes it's kind of gray and fleeting and shifting, but to see it like in full three-dimensional color and journey through it, yeah. It was really profound, you know. At that moment, there's been a lot of auspicious sort of stake posts, like, this is your path, this is what you're supposed to be doing. And seeing that, it was just kind of like, OK, Swami, you got me again. Like, what else? Like, how do we move this forward? How do we do more of this?
[00:16:48.842] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, since I really got into VR, I went to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and watched the series, they're called Centered in the Universe, which I thought at that point was kind of the most sophisticated exploration of space and with a very, in some ways, humanistic and spiritual thread through that. But there wasn't a lot of other content for watching in domes that I've really got a chance to really immerse myself in. and watching a lot of virtual reality in contrast to seeing this Samsara in the dome is that you really start to notice the limited field of view in VR and I was able to sit there and actually there's a lot of movement in Samsara that had I watched that in VR would have made me sick. But I think that there is just the ability of me kind of being grounded in my body. I can see my nose. Maybe that's a part of it. I don't know. Like there's different elements where it was fine. This movement was subtle and constant velocity where it wasn't making me motion sick. But not having a lot of pixels and just allowing myself to not worry about the technology and just allow myself to really Letting it really put me into an altered state.
[00:17:52.952] Android Jones: That's what I feel like is like that's the closest I felt to Allowing a virtual reality experience to put me into like an altered state like a digital drug And then ultimately we try to get to a place where the technology becomes really transparent and it's not about the technology It wouldn't be possible without it, but it's not the focus of it. You know, the focus is really on How do we deliver a powerful, meaningful, and beautiful experience to people that adds some type of value to their life? And if we do it with a headset, if we do it with a mobile phone, if we do it with a dome, if we do it with like a walk through Varanasi and, you know, getting satsang, like whatever those things are, those are important and valuable and I think from the technology standpoint, too, I mean, even going back to the Vedas, you read about the Vedas, they talk about technology that's like hundreds of thousands of years farther in the future than we are right now. And so there's also kind of a humbling, like whatever this is, this is just what's available now. There may have been better stuff. There may have been worse stuff. Like it's not about, you know, we're heavily reliant on really powerful graphics cards and we geek out on the Quadros and the Pascal and all We have that side of it, too. But ultimately, it's really about what I've realized. We did this at Burning Man last year, and it was more successful than I would have ever imagined for an event like Burning Man. That's very physical, tactile. Things are burning. You can climb on things. It's very physical. I was shocked on the line we had and the kind of reaction we got from people. And it made me realize it's like, oh, wow. At the end of the day, I see the mind kind of like a multi chambered like key lock, you know, you've got all these different barriers you have to go through and if you can get the animation right, if you can get the visuals just realistically enough, if you can get the sound and the motion and the environment, like each one of those is a different chamber in the lock and if you get all those right, just for, you know, you're holding this illusion together like with duct tape. If you can get that right for a moment, that just leads to, I had an experience. And that experience becomes a memory and that becomes just as real as anything else you've done. That makes part of who you are and has some type of influence on what you do in the world. And at the end of the day, it really is all we have is experiences. All of our motivations, all of our wants and needs and desires and avoidances all center around the types of experience we want to have or we want to steer away from on some level. And I think that's what VR and the 360 Dome environment, it offers, I think, just a greater level of possibilities of deeper experiences that we can share with people.
[00:20:29.196] Kent Bye: Now, you're also here at VRLA announcing for the first time publicly a new company that you're forming called Microdose. And you're showing some artistic creation tools that, for you as a digital artist, are able to really kind of express yourself and virtual reality in a new way. So maybe you could talk a bit about what you're showing here.
[00:20:45.724] Android Jones: Sure. So Microdose is our other project. Samskara, as it remains now, it's mostly just a passive playback experience you have. We also wanted to create something that was highly mentally engaging for someone. And I've been working in kind of a live visual digital stage for the past 10 years. I've been using different programs that create real-time visuals. I had a program called Particle Illusion that I kind of hacked together to be a VJ software. I was using a Wacom, and the tip of the Wacom was just like a sprite-based particle emitter, and I used that. hacked that into using it on from boom festivals to we did a session on like the Sydney Opera House. I've used it in lots of different applications and over the years it just became something that felt also like really limiting. So I wanted to see like how can we push this and what's available technologically and there wasn't anything that was able to really generate these live, fractal, real-time particle visuals that I wanted to. And we started experimenting and kind of getting exposed to more different type of VR projects. I started to realize, wow, we're doing everything in the Unreal Engine. And through Cascade and different plugins, it was everything I could have wanted to do. And it made me realize, well, what I want to do I want to make a first-person shooter, but instead of a gun, I just want it to be an awesome, beautiful particle that can shoot out lotus petals into the world and fractal spirals. And so we've managed to basically leverage the same type of technology that's used for flamethrowers and railguns and cannon launchers. into creating, you know, pretty convincingly psychedelic, like, moving, strobing, unfolding, unfurling, like, visuals around you. And so the experience of that has been incredibly exciting to get into that and explore. And the thing where I first got inspired around that was Through HP, who's been a really amazingly generous sponsor through technology and access to different things, I was able to see kind of an earlier build of Tilt Brush. And that was my first like real VR creative experience. And you know, that was obviously incredibly mind-blowing and mad respect and humility to the developers of that, you know, to actually work in 3D space. And several months after that, I had an opportunity to visit Oculus and try their Medium program. And that took where I was with Tilt Brush and just threw it on a whole new level. And that's when I really just started to realize, man, VR can do so much. And it's a Pandora's box. It's going to do a lot of really terrible things, too. beautiful future out on the horizon where everything's going to be rainbows and sunshine. The opportunity for distraction and dislocation and isolation and indulgence and idle fancy is unbelievable. But I saw that the creative opportunity is going to be unparalleled. Because I could feel when I was using Oculus Medium for the first time, subjectively, I felt like I could really feel aspects of my brain firing, like new neural connections. that weren't just dormant, they were non-existent, before this moment of realizing, like, wow, I can, like, I was sculpting, like, a huge psychedelic dragon and spinning it around the room at room scale. I was just, like, I never knew I had permission to do something like this in the waking world. And that's, I think, what excited me the most, like, how can we leverage virtual reality to not only create deep experiences, but I mean, can this be a tool for our own evolution? You know, can we alter brain chemistry? Can we hack consciousness? And, you know, with these type of tools, I mean, microdose is very early on in its development, but I mean our larger picture, you know, it's not just what we're doing but what lots of other people are doing is hopefully create some kind of a sea change where we can really give birth to like a new type of artist, you know, like we really want to evolve like the story of art history and use this type of technology to create an artist that has the opportunity to sculpt and dance and make a song and music like all simultaneously and kind of start removing the boxes of like, oh, I'm a painter, I'm a dancer, I'm this. Like our human potential is unlimited, but it's limited to how we program ourselves on what's possible and what is impossible. And for our experience working at Microdose, it's been shattering the possibilities that we thought were there, you know, in those kind of roadblocks. And it's been creating these openings that are, you know, the kind of things that I would say I dreamed about it, but I didn't even give myself permission or awareness of knowing that we could dream of the things that are going to be coming and be available within this new world that we're creating.
[00:25:25.406] Kent Bye: So my experience of actually playing Microdose was that, you know, sometimes when you play VR and it's something so new and novel, you start to get the VR giggles. I just start laughing. And I was just giggling because it was so joyful. It kind of feels like Tilt Brush in a way and definitely inspired by it. But there's a few things that I think that are different that are really important to point out. One is that in Tilt Brush, a lot of people go into Tilt Brush and say, I'm not an artist. And then they get into Tilt Brush and they start creating art. And they're like, oh, my God, I didn't even know this was possible for me to do this. But the thing is that you're creating things that are static and staying there and you end up saving it to a gallery. And this feels like more of an experience driven VR experience where it's more about drawing particles that are changing and they have almost like a life cycle where they're going through some sort of evolution and they're changing and you're able to look at them and you're able to scale up into large scale and then work things in the near field but also kind of like make them huge and giant but I just found myself kind of playing with the different particle emitter brushes and just watching them and just being fascinated and that was just my first interaction with this and then when I saw you start to do it a little bit where you were have a lot of many more hours in this experience you were able to really start to create these really amazing art shapes that are kind of like a Tibetan sand painting that when you're creating it it disappears, and it's not meant to be saved, but it's more kind of an expression of what you're feeling in that moment.
[00:26:48.430] Android Jones: Yeah, one of our, kind of our strategy with it right now, it's exactly, it's not designed to be saved, it's really designed to be experienced. And when we talk about how VR is giving us this new ability to give people experiences, when I think about what are the experiences in my life that are the most valuable and powerful for me, it's Number one, no question, it's just the creative experience. That feedback that I get within my mind and my soul when I'm making something and I'm seeing it, my hands making it for the very first time. I get chills just making that description to you right now. That's really the juice of life for me. I've been making art my whole life for people to experience, but this gives us the type of opportunity to give people the ability to have that experience themselves, which is incredibly exciting. I've been teaching art for many years and I've always had these questions like, How come I'm an artist and someone else isn't an artist? What was different about me versus someone else? And when I teach students, I'm able to see a lot of the hangups. And through just making a kind of analysis of my own experience, kind of tracking the creative experience, like where is the rush? Where does it start to plateau? Where does it fall off? Where does it dive? Because I mean, the creative experience can also be really excruciating too. There's highs and lows and it's really the whole journey that makes it something that I find really valuable. But I feel like I've been able to isolate some of what I would call kind of like the places where that state of mind, where that free state of mind is inhibited. And I find that when I'm making something, like even with the digital realm, say it's a two-dimensional digital painting, you're on this like you're riding this like wave of inspiration when it's good a lot of times you have to get past like the voice in your head that says everything you do sucks and you're doing the same thing over once you get past that one and you get into that kind of like a flow state in your mind there's the point where i find that it always it changes or it tapers is the first time I hit save because it means like I've made something that's precious enough that I don't want to lose it and that first save it's never the same after that first save you know because now you have this kind of record of it and anytime you did like an undo whenever you undo you've second guessed yourself and you've changed it and you're not in the flow you can't flow with an undo and you can't flow with a save and They're necessary steps for creating a product. If you want to make something that's going to be a tangible asset in the future, it's very important to have those tools. I don't know what I'd do without an undo button, but as far as creating the simulation of creative experience, not so good. So we wanted to design Microdose around, I don't know, democratize the creative experience to anybody. When I notice people and students or someone using Tilt Brush or other programs, I don't want to pick on Tilt Brush at all, but when you have the opportunity to save something, there's a second guessing that happens and there's also like a record of it too. And we live in this strange culture of like creative persecution where we have this like mentally implied punishment of failure if you don't do something right, which is systematic and insidious. So not having the saving doesn't do that. We want to make something where there's no wrong way to use this. As long as you're using it in a way that you get something out of it, that's exactly what it's there for and everything disappears. You can't get attached to any of the things that you do and you're never going to have the same experience twice based off the motion and the variability of the particles and the size, what music you're listening to, what mode you're in. And yeah, so we're moving those. We see people spending so much more time in it and like wanting to come back and have the experience over and over again. And I think if we can make something that makes anybody feel creative, I think that's a really powerful thing. It's been such, I don't know what my life would be like without it. And the other element too is that with most art forms, there's a really steep learning curve to get into things. One of the reasons I stopped oil painting is after studying the work of like Bouguereau and Velasquez and John Singer Sargent, I realized that I could spend the rest of my life dedicated to like vermilion and crimson and sable brushes. And I don't know what I was going to add to the conversation of oil painting throughout humanity. I don't have all the time and discipline that Rembrandt had, not even close. What's my offering there? And that level of excellence, when looking back, that made me stop pursuing a path and choosing the digital route, as one example. And what I do really, I'm really excited about this sort of virtual world and this new medium that we're exploring together, is that it's a total even playing field now, you know? There's no experts in this anymore, like it's open to anybody. And this next generation of younger artists, you know, the teens, like when 11 and 12 and these like this, emerging consciousness that doesn't have the same blockages that you gather, you know, that residually samskara and, like, collect you, like, as soon as they get these, like, we're building this for people to enjoy right now, but our sights are really set on, like, another generation that's coming up. and we want to be able to create and give them the kind of tools that will just unlock every bit of the 90% of the brain that we're not using. If we can just get a small fraction more, we don't have lofty ideas of new humans emerging on the planet, but just whatever we can do to just expand the bandwidth of creative potential, and if we can make people feel like they're more creative, I'm partly just curious to see what's going to happen. I really want to see where all these tools are at and what art's going to look like in the next five, ten years when we have these new kind of opportunities and we can kind of start creating new movements in art and new types of artists. Because art and technology, they've always had an inner connection with each other. As something develops, artists take advantage of it and that spurs more technology and so it's been this beautiful symbiotic relationship. And VR is a huge boost in that. Whatever the graph of that, we're at a major spike that I've never seen in my 20 years of being a digital artist. And that really inspires all of us to make this special.
[00:32:57.737] Kent Bye: You know, you named your experience Microdose, and you've gone to a number of different transformational festivals, and the visionary artist is kind of like this, going to these altered states through psychedelics or other altered states of consciousness to be able to really explore these other realms. And in a lot of ways, you're kind of doing this shamanically inspired walking between two worlds and bringing back the visions that you're seeing. I'm really curious to hear some of your thoughts of how you see kind of virtual reality being able to be kind of like this digital drug or almost kind of provide these synthetic psychedelic type of experiences.
[00:33:34.809] Android Jones: I mean if I didn't love drawing so much and I went into the field of chemistry I'd be making drugs right now. I'd be trying to maybe follow in like Sasha Shulgin's footsteps and like those heroes but I'm terrible at chemistry and math and this is the only thing that I'm not terrible at. But with this, it's like, I feel for the first, I was telling the guys is like, it's like, this is the closest thing to making like virtual drugs. Like we're making digital drugs with this and drugs from the perspective of things that really open your mind to these new perspectives and possibilities and experience. And so, yeah, a lot of that, that was a part of an inspiration of the name. It's definitely, you know, I'm not shy about, you know, my history and where I've gone. And because we had, we had a bunch of different names we were thinking about at the beginning and none of them were sticking at all and they all felt like very you know like combining words together and this is like and it was actually it was the first time I actually I sat down in the studio and I kind of reserved a whole weekend and I was able to actually really go into that sort of creative ceremonial state with some LSD and go into the realm and from there I mean it was a huge Many breakthroughs happened that night, but coming out of it, I was like, actually I was doing a lot of near field sculpting. I mean, I was, I was, I had this thing on for like hours, like crying and going through it, like making these little cinematic movies of particles and the, the subjective aspects of it with the soundtrack, like turned into these deep, meaningful symbols of my life. And, you know, and I, when I came out, it was like, Oh, Yeah, it's called Microdose. How did I not see that coming a mile away that it's going to be called Microdose? And that was it. You know, the domain was totally clear. And so we just went for it. Wow.
[00:35:20.557] Kent Bye: What's been some of your insights in terms of, you know, having a number of different psychedelic experiences, but also in VR, I get this sense with the actual chemicals, it's actually physically doing something to your body. That's like, you know, the multidisciplinary association for psychedelic studies, MAPS, they do all these different studies with psilocybin showing how there's actually literally more connections in your brains that are happening. And so it just seems like when you do the actual drugs, that it's connecting your neurons together in a new way. But do you feel like that virtual reality without having the chemical aspect is able to be some sort of like simulcrum or if it's kind of like taking a very small dose of psychedelics like you named it, microdose?
[00:36:02.732] Android Jones: It's like that. And I mean, part of it, we like the name because it's like a noun and a verb, you know, it's like you can micro dose is like an adjective of what you're doing too. And also it was the kind of talk about like the creative experience. Like it's just like a micro thing. Like you can go in for five minutes in the morning. It's kind of like that creative mental yoga. Like I, when I'm stressed out, I just go into it. I do it right before I microdose right before bed, you know We also like the idea of a lot of people Hashtagging microdose all the time and it really fucking with the NSA and not being able to search it as a term anymore I was when one asked but I mean I found from my own experience like VR and psychedelics They're both very powerful and they're definitely not like mutually exclusive between the two types of experiences but there's something about I don't know, it's hard, it's maybe a little harder to really get to the core of it, but like when I consider drugs, I mean all drugs are different and I have had a lot of really amazing experiences and a lot of things that I would never like wish on like a worst enemy. I'm not an evangelist for the psychedelic experience in one way, but You know, I do consider for some of these substances like LSD to be a type of evolver. You know, it definitely has a way of when I have a problem or it offers a much deeper reflection of myself and my surroundings than I may be capable or willing to even look at in other situations. And so with, you know, kind of calling it microdosing, going in that level, it just felt like it was an appropriate way to kind of brand the type of experience that we wanted to be giving people.
[00:37:32.189] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you see as kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality and what am I be able to enable?
[00:37:39.136] Android Jones: Yeah. So we touched on it a bit earlier, but I think for me, the ultimate potential, Oh, one potential that I think is really interesting, something that may come up in the future. And I don't know if there's a prediction that people are working on this now they might be, but I think that there's a really interesting intersection like a lot of people you've heard like the Elon Musk like we could be if you look at Pong and you look at Unreal video games right now and Unreal is amazing by the way. Microdose created Unreal Engine just one of the most mind-blowing art creative programs ever just want to plug Unreal for a sec. But if you look at Pong and you look at these new games coming out, and you look at the disparity between the two, and you're going to say, oh, in another decade, it's going to be indistinguishable. I think that's a total fallacy. I think that if you think that what we can do with technology is ever going to recreate the molecular resolution of reality, you're not paying close enough attention. to how amazing the world is around you right now. I can't imagine it ever getting, the amount of fractal algorithms, maybe AI could do that, but little monkey brains? Not in my lifetime. No way. Putting that out there. However, if we were to develop VR, and if there was some type of like, kind of like Neo-Matrix, but if there was a chemical that was maybe like injected at the same time as the headset went on that put the mind in like a more flexible like a lucid state kind of like a dream and maybe it's not a chemical maybe it's some type of like a binaural beat or maybe we find some way of like hacking an electrical charge that releases like a serotonin or endorphin but I think that is If we could figure that out, I think we could get to the place where a virtual reality experience would feel quote-unquote real, like the real world is. Because our versions of reality are very incredibly subjective. There's a lot of wiggle room in what we consider real and not real. And I think that's the aspect from the psychedelic experience that's taught me time after time again, like as soon as I think I have something like figured out or I'm like at the zenith, the pinnacle, I realize I'm like a fly on the windshield, you know, and that upper eschaton has an eschaton behind it and again and again from like a fractal nature even going back to the sutras like it's all nothing's new. It's all kind of this dance of Maya, like recreating itself. And I think it's exciting to really be a part of that right now. And it comes down to your question about, like, what are the highest possibilities? The near term, I think, for what we're trying to do and why we want to focus our energy and, you know, the limited amount of lifespan we have on a microdose is that I feel that with these kind of tools, as they become more available and people are able to, like I said before, like sculpt with sound and their dance turns into a sculpture. I think we're going to be able to really hack into the potential of human creativity and really give birth to some new movements and some new artists. And for me, in my very narrow view of the world, looking at it through the end of my Wacom pen, that's exciting. That's exciting for me. So I'm going to focus on that and I'll let a lot of other people save the world and deal with the bigger problems out there and wish them the best of luck.
[00:40:55.703] Kent Bye: Awesome. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say?
[00:40:58.945] Android Jones: Oh man, I think I talked enough. That was a lot for sure. But yeah, I just want to express my gratitude to you. I've been listening to your podcast for a really long time and whenever I need some type of information and as I've been, I'm sure a lot of people listening right now, there's like a virtual reality addiction. I think we're kind of going through like I got, I'm hooked. A lot of people here at this conference is a testament to like the hook people are. And, you know, through Samskara and what we're doing with Microbrush and a lot of other amazing software out there, I'm really excited to see people as this new horizon is expanding, and as we see this, like, we're in this kind of new frontier, I'm really excited about using this technology and the applications that can bring some virtue to virtual reality, like the things that stand for goodness, truth, creativity, and beauty. I'm just super excited to plant some flags out there amidst the porn and the wave zombie shooters and all those things that are very necessary with the whole scope of the Kali Yuga, and I honor them. But I'm excited about that. I'm really excited about this conference and the people that organize it and the work you do, sharing the thoughts and viewpoints of all these people. So thank you very much.
[00:42:08.033] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thank you, Android. I really enjoyed your work and really look forward to seeing what else you create.
[00:42:13.634] Android Jones: Yeah. Let's get dosed.
[00:42:17.935] Kent Bye: So that was Android Jones. He is the creator of Simscara. And he's a visionary artist who's also creating content creation tools with microdose VR. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, we covered a lot of ground in this interview. So let me try to pick out some of the big highlights that I'm taking away. First of all, just the process of being an artist and being a creator, I think is something that is something I really took away from what Android was trying to do with his micro dose VR. One of the things that really stuck out with me of what Android was saying is that whenever he hits the undo button, that's a way to undo the creative flow. The thing that Android was saying, which is kind of the design that he's trying to put into microdose VR, is that he's not really even putting a save button in there. You just go in there and you're trying to express your creativity. To not even add that as a functionality just allows you to just go in and experiment a lot more. And I think that Tilt Brush does have the ability to save it. And I have found myself not going in there as much because I get really critical and I don't actually create things And writers, they try to break that up into two distinct states of creation. They say that you should just write a really shitty first draft and then you go through and you edit it. So not having an undo button and not having a save feature I think is kind of like this ingenious way of trying to actually cultivate this sense of getting into the flow, this creative flow. I've noticed this also personally from playing audio shield. So in audio shield, you have different metrics that you have that you can measure yourself against. So you can either go for technical aptitude for hitting all the balls. And then there's this kind of nebulous artistic expression, which is kind of like measuring how much you're punching the balls. But I think it's really actually kind of like how much movement you're making either with your hands and your head. And so it's kind of trying to get this qualitative aspect of, you know, how much are you actually physically moving? So I've noticed that when I go into AudioShield and I get super focused on trying to get the highest score, then actually I don't get into that flow. And then when I let go of that and I just try to focus on my movement and how good it feels to move around, then that's actually when I get into this zone where I just get into the flow. And I think this is the essence of what Android is talking about, this process of creativity. And also the potential of using VR to get into those flow states, like using VR to actually feel what it feels like to get into flow, into VR, but then you walk out and then you're trying to continue that process of flow. So with Microdose VR, I think he's trying to really just finely tune that. As a visionary artist and as a creative, he wants to be able to actually get into that state. So I'm really curious to see where this goes. And the actual experience that I had of it was really amazing. I mean, anything that you've seen in the near field or things that are flying around your face are super compelling. And just the process of using these fairly highly designed particle emitters as you're waving your hands around, I think it's going to be It's super interesting to see where this goes and also really interesting to hear Android and his focus on trying to create these content tools for the next generation. Because I think if you look at the Z generation and the way that they're using technology, again we go back to Snapchat where the way that they're trying to really bring about this new experiential age where it's not about saving the content, it's disposable, it disappears. So what that is really trying to force you to do is to be authentic, to be real, to be in the moment, and to not worry about saving it, and to just try to get into that flow of that creation process without worrying about who's gonna see it, who's gonna judge it, because it's either gonna be just your friends that you're seeing it, or it's gonna be disposable and disappear. So there's a really great interview that I did with Doigoo Daniels in episode 370 if you want to get a little bit more information about Snapchat. There's a lot of discussion there about the Z generation and what they're doing and just the experiential age versus the information age in general. So the other big takeaway about this interview was Samskara and kind of using VR as a tool for spiritual transformation. So I just want to unpack that a little bit because first of all it was a pretty wild backstory for how this came about but just the basic idea of trying to take something like the ancient Vedas and trying to in some way translate them into some sort of visual experience so that you could go into it and see it in VR and have access to it in a way that is trying to take these ideas and kind of wrap it within the visionary art of Android Jones. So I really enjoyed the experience, although I don't necessarily think that I'd be able to describe it in words, like I wouldn't be able to tell you the story. It would just kind of felt like a dream where there was lots of different images that were coming at me, and I didn't necessarily know their origin, didn't know the backstory, and it did have this sense of an arc of, you know, starting out with positive images and then got really dark and then it ended on the positive images again. But just to have the symbols and myths explained in that way, I think it's actually going to be something that I'm really looking forward to seeing a lot more of in the future, especially from other religions. And I think that there's just a lot of differences in the world right now and the different religions and different worldviews, and I think something like VR has a big role to play in terms of trying to at least give some sort of visceral direct experience to be able to have some sort of common framework to talk about these things that we can't really necessarily prove with any amount of certainty. And just the other point that I wanted to throw out there is that, you know, Android is a visionary artist and he has been into a lot of these transformational festival scenes and there is a bit of drug culture that happens there where people are going into different altered states of mind. And to me, I don't necessarily advocate the use of psychedelic drugs. you know, there's other ways that I alter my consciousness and feel like VR is a great way to perhaps explore different altered states of consciousness. But that all aside, I think the main point there is that just looking at it from an anthropological point of view and me talking to a wide range of different people, the people that I've talked to that have had these different psychedelic experiences, I think there's a kind of lifting the veil of what they've seen of the nature of reality when they've been able to put these different substances within their body that is able to unlock their perceptual systems in a different way. And I think that to just focus on the visual part of that, I don't think it's going to be necessarily enough from what I've heard from different people who have quite a lot of different experiences with psychedelics, that there's actually something physiological that's happening within your body that's causing all sorts of other things to get unlocked in that way. So I think people can go in and have these altered states, whether it's through drugs or breathing or what other ways that you get into these altered states, but that you have these experiences that then you're able to get inspired and to try to give some sort of simulcrum of that within a VR experience, to give people just a small taste in a way that actually is a lot safer. there's a lot of risks that happen with taking drugs and I think with VR there's risks with motion sickness but you know you can always just take off the headset whenever you want but in a drug experience you can't sort of do an undo and and stop the effects of it because it's actually physically in your body and so Andrew is saying is that, you know, when you have these psychedelic experiences, it actually opens up your perceptions in a way that makes you appreciate what is actually here on earth. And so that you go into VR and you come out and you actually appreciate the level of fidelity and all the haptics and all the sensations of what it means to be alive on this earth right now. And so that's the thing that I take away from that is that there's just a level of skepticism to overthink that VR is going to ever really fully create what's possible in reality. maybe if there's a combination with taking drugs or other haptics or whatnot but I don't necessarily know if that's the point to be able to go into VR and to escape being alive and being here on the earth. I think that there's just a lot of need to actually become more present into what's happening in the earth, but that if we can use VR to go into these different experiences as kind of training wheels to figure out how to either get into the creative flow or to get more present. And then we come out and just have a better appreciation for life and what we actually have. And I think that is what Android says that he wants to try to bring more virtue into virtual reality. So that's all that I have for today. I just wanted to thank you again for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you like the podcast, then please do spread the word, you know, share these different podcasts with your friends, especially this episode. I think, I think there's a lot of things that we talk about that people who are typically kind of skeptical of technology and the potential of technology. I think within the last couple of weeks or so, there's been a lot of episodes that are really good to show what VR can do. And I think there's a little bit of called arms in terms of the art that needs to be created right now, just to move forward together as an entire civilization, but also just to maintain this relationship to each other, to the earth and to something greater than ourselves. So do that. And also, if you want to support the podcast financially, that would be amazing to just ensure the continuation of the work that I'm doing here. You can do that at patreon.com slash voices of VR. Thanks for listening.