The initial concept was derived over 15 years ago from reading Ryu Murakami's cyber punk classic novel Coin Locker Babies, watching the classic anime Akira, Tesuo the Ironman, Blade Runner, Chris Marker's La Jette, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorcese, Jean Luc Godard, reading the writings of William Burroughs, Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulations, Andy Warhol's philosophy, listening to Kraftwerk, growing up with early 80s DJ culture of sampling, travelling to Tokyo, Japan, my experience of making art and living in Boyle Heights LA, where the intersection of Japanese, Mexican and Jewish community existed before WW2.
The idea of collaborating between LA and Nagoya team came about by joining LANSCA, a non-profit organization, LA Nagoya Sister Cities organization and my desire to fulfill their mission of cultural and economic exchange, but by using new technologies. Luckily we were able to partner with an enthusiastic, technically proficient VR tech team in Nagoya who were just as excited as I was to take on this new challenge.
My imagination has been entertaining the idea of virtual reality medium since graduating high school in 1993, when I made my first large scale artwork on wood panel which depicted a man (self-portrait) contained in a dark prison like box with metal bars and wires coming out from a HMD on man connected to two bicycle wheels on each side with Michelangelo's famous human diagram behind it. Behind the man in the box was a large acrylic painting of a person riding a bicycle into the horizon of a dessert landscape. This to me, represented the possibility to time travel and go anywhere using your mind, despite feeling trapped in our own little box.
How it works
This experiential story is of the perspective of a "High-Tech Low-Life" salary man, who goes to a VR dream lab to escape the mundane banality of everyday. He finds himself in a game like situation of having to choose from multiple stream "choose your own adventure" narratives at various points in the story. He meets memorable "cosplay" characters based on famous sci-fi anime stories that give advice along the way, on a the mission to find DATURA, and deciding what to do with it...either destroy the world or discover new meaning of relationships and taking care of something.
Challenges I ran into
Because we are working with hardly any budget, the biggest challenges the producer and I ran into was scheduling/ coordinating production with non professional actors, and securing the best locations, being flexible and creative enough to rewriting the script according to availability of talent and crew. Also, following certain traditional sacred cultural rules in Japan, but it ultimately worked out for the best.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Accomplishments that I'm proud of includes forming a "dream team" cast and crew who all agreed to work pro bono, that is super talented and driven to perform at their best of thier abilities with the motivation of coming to LA, if we win. Which includes: Make up, professional cos play actors, producer, camera crew, music composers, programmers, etc.
What I learned
I learned that it's important to trust the VR gods and the VR team to make the best choices/decisions with their expert knowledge and experience behind them. And letting go of some of the expectations and preconceived ideas that I might have in how this is supposed to turn out. The outcome has resulted in exceeding much further than i could have ever imagined due to the generosity and creativity of the participating members.