Things to do: Take a Virtual Reality trip to the ISS with THE UFINITE

Save your money, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk. You do not have to be a billionaire to take a trip to outer space. And as fun as it can be to sit next to Miss Piggy for a restart Pigs in the room, it really is not that hard to go where no pig man has gone before. Thanks to THE INFINITE, traveling to the outer limits – or at least out of this world – is quite achievable at Sawyer Yards.

THE INFINITE, the first multi-sensory, interactive virtual reality experience to transport visitors aboard the International Space Station, landed in Houston for a limited run, and debuted in the United States after its inaugural run in Montreal. Produced by INFINITY EXPERIENCES, a joint venture between PHI Studio and Felix & Paul Studios, THE INFINITE redefines the boundaries of the user experience by allowing visitors to roam freely in a replica of the space station in life scale, bringing audiences closer to the feeling of being in outer space than ever before.

The 12,500 sqm. the exhibition is an extension of the recent Primetime Emmy Award-winning immersive series, Space Explorers: The ISS Experience, the largest production ever filmed in space, produced in collaboration with TIME Studios. The immersive series, recorded over a period of almost three years and producing more than 200 hours of high-end virtual reality footage, documents the lives of eight international astronauts inside and outside the space station.

“PHI really specializes in contextualization. We consider Felix & Paul’s content to be art, so we wanted to develop an installation, or in this case a large-scale exhibition, where we could put this content at the forefront,” says Éric Albert, CEO from PHI Center.

click to enlarge Put on your glasses for a trip to the amazing International Space Station.  - PHOTO: MELISSA TAYLOR

Put on your glasses for a trip to the fantastic International Space Station.

Photo by Melissa Taylor

THE UFINITE includes footage from the first biographical spacewalk ever taken in 3D, 360 ° virtual reality filmed outside the space station on September 12, 2021, in addition to offering visitors a self-guided experience aboard the space station itself. During the 60-minute journey, visitors’ senses will be enriched through the interactivity of physical objects, virtual reality, multimedia art, soundscapes, lighting design and even the subtle scents of a forest – evoking memories of stargazing while lying on the grass.

The experience itself starts with a “ride” in an elevator that takes you up to a spaceship, and then you are geared up with goggles, complete with sound sets that provide a completely unique experience. So, when you are ready, guides will lead you to a space where you are free to explore on your own terms.

Clumsy people like myself should not worry. Sensors embedded in the glasses prevent you from bumping into other participants or walls … although at first it may feel like you are living in “Clarice Versus Buffalo Bill: Space Orbit Edition” for the first few minutes due to virtual reality aspect. Just give it a few minutes – the disorientation will pass.

And this is where the really fun begins.

The story is meant to be experienced in four parts, according to Stephane Rituit, CEO of Felix & Paul Studios. Each segment gives its own narrative to the overall saga of the space station.

“The first part is about adaptation. You go through different phases of adaptation and different testimonies. The second part is about the progress of science. The third phase is more about unity. And the fourth part is about the future of space exploration,” he says.

It has a lot of gazmos and gazmos. Look to the left of you and there is a clock that floats in zero gravity that you can brush away with your hand. Step to the right and you accidentally leave the virtual walls of the space station and hover just outside it.

click to enlarge The Infinite takes you on a trip to the International Space Station.  No billionaires required.  - PHOTO: MELISSA TAYLOR

The Infinite takes you on a trip to the International Space Station. No billionaires required.

Photo by Melissa Taylor

It’s an adventurer’s dream come true.

While guests explore the virtual world, they will encounter small, glowing spheres. By physically passing into the sphere, it activates the goggles and speakers to deliver accounts of what the astronauts are experiencing. There are stories of life in zero gravity and the fun it can bring, the quest to advance science and exploration and an overall understanding that the Earth is not a place of boundaries, but rather that we are all part of the human race .

Albert added: “I think an important element is the human aspect of space exploration. When you look at Earth from a distance, there is this thing called the ‘overview effect’, which astronauts describe as a huge sense of emotion. So if we can make people feel it, we’ll be pretty happy about it. ”

The “overview effect” may be a new term for some, so a quick Wikipedia search describes it as such: “The overview effect is a cognitive shift in consciousness reported by some astronauts in space flight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. is the experience of first-hand seeing the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood as a tiny, fragile sphere of life, ‘hanging in the void’, shielded and nurtured by a paper-thin atmosphere, also invoking a sense of transcendence and connection with humanity as a whole, from which national borders appear petty. ”

When taking a walk through THE UFINITE, the overview effect is undeniable, as much as the limitless opportunities to learn and discover.

The layout of the experience offers more than 60 balls to activate, which can not be achieved in just one turn. Anyone can go their first time and get an experience and return next time to get a whole new experience by activating a different set of balls.

click to enlarge The imagination is the only limit with The Infinite.  - PHOTO: MELISSA TAYLOR

The imagination is the only limit with The Infinite.

Photo by Melissa Taylor

And just when you think you’ve seen it all, THE UFINITE keeps an extra number with you The Universe in the Universe, created by Ryoji Ikeda, with support from Norimichi Hirakawa, Ryo Shiraki, Tomonaga Tokuyama and commissioned by INFINITY EXPERIENCES.

In the ten-minute loop, Ikeda’s audiovisual installation makes us question nature’s hidden facets and structures that propel observers through an immersive journey from the microscopic to the macroscopic and beyond.

In summary, THE UFINITE allows you to experience and see as if you were right there in the space station – without the need for astronaut training. The visual quality is top notch. It is credible in the truest sense of the word. The stories are compelling enough to make a grown man cry. This is virtual reality at its best. And it’s right here in Space City’s own backyard. The overall experience is one that should be enjoyed if at all possible.

For safety precautions, masks are required and goggles are disinfected after each use. People with reduced mobility also have the opportunity to participate. Parking is plentiful, but RSVP is not. Seats fill up quickly, so buy tickets sooner rather than later if you want to enjoy this experience.

You really have to see it to understand it, but this video might help better capture what THE UFINITE is like.

THE INFINITE is located at Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards. Visit theinfiniteexperience.world for information, ticket prices and available opening hours. The exhibition is scheduled to remain in the city until mid-February.

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