Exploring Near-Future Moral Quandaries with INVAR Studios

vincent-edwardsRose Colored by INVAR Studios & Adam Cosco won the award for best live-acton VR experience at the Advanced Imaging Society’s Lumiere Awards on February 12th. I previously interviewed Cosco at VRLA last year, and I had a chance to talk with INVAR’s co-founder & chief creative officer Vincent Edwards & creative director Austin Conroy on their thoughts on the future of storytelling in VR at Kaleidoscope VR’s FIRST LOOK VR Market.

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Rose Colored is a near-future speculative sci-fi tale in the same cautionary vein as Black Mirror, but with a little bit more of an optimistic bent. Edwards identifies as an inveterate optimist, and enjoys the process of world-building potential futures in VR and exploring the moral quandaries of the logical extremes of how AR & AI technologies will impact our lives and romantic relationships. Conroy identifies as a storytelling geek, and is really interested in VR’s capability to allow you to embody a character using the visual storytelling affordances cultivated by cinema. It’s an open question for how you can get the audience inside of a fictional character’s head, which he compares to building a mind.

Edwards says that VR storytelling reminds him of the early days of the DIY punk rock scene in Los Angeles where there’s a lot of experimentation and a willingness to forget everything you know. There are a lot of lessons about visual storytelling that will come from film, and the interactive storytelling innovations for VR are more likely to come from game developers.

As far as where VR & AR goes in the future, both Edwards and Conroy take inspiration from Buddhist and Hindu concepts. Conroy cites a passage from Eknath Easwaran’s translation of the Dhammapada saying that our experiences could be thought of as projection similar to how we experience continuity of a story when a movie projects 24 frames per second onto a screen. Edwards says that if that’s true, then perhaps VR could provide us with training wheels to be able to cut through the matrix and “awaken from the dream that is Maya.” They acknowledge that these are some dense philosophical and metaphysical ideas, but that it’s part of the deeper motivations for INVAR Studios to create multi-platform stories that help reflect on our identity and experiences in life, and to give us stories about potential futures that help us reconcile with the nature of reality today.


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