Ocean | Room-scale VR art installation for public spaces
August 30, 2017

Red Sun

A multisensory experience chamber with VR, ambient sound and scent.

Designed & developed by Mariam Zakarian.
Premiere: May 2019.
Exhibited in arcades, conferences, museums and other public and private events.

Roles: CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT • UX DESIGN • 3D MODELING • TEXTURE ART • 2D ASSETS • MUSIC COMPOSITION AND PERFORMANCE • IMPLEMENTATION AND OPTIMIZATION • PHYSICAL INSTALLATION DESIGN • USER-TESTING • PROMOTIONAL WORK

MULTISENSORY EXPERIENCE:
Red Sun is a VR installation presented in a multisensory experience chamber.
Enclosed by curtains for privacy, the space features dim, warm light, soft seating, ambient sound and the smell of fresh flowers to enhance and support the virtual world.
A QUIET CORNER IN A BUSY SPACE:
In noisy, crowded spaces full of distractions, the quiet, cozy atmosphere of Red Sun can offer a moment for taking a breath. The installation has been exhibited in arcades, presenting a calm alternative to action-packed VR games, and at high-pace conferences, offering guests a visit to a different world to recharge.
Red Sun is a sensory experience including a virtual reality application
and a physical installation with sound, scent and comfortable ambiance.

Designed to offer a time-out from the hectic, noisy pace of urban, public spaces.

SIT, STAND OR LIE BACK IN VR:
Red Sun utilizes the room-scale system of the HTC Vive. Users are able to physically move within the VR environment due to real-time 360˚ positional tracking.
It is possible to sit or lie back on floor cushions, or to stand up to move around in the installation space.
This freedom of movement can contribute to a greater sense of immersion in the virtual world.
ENVELOPED IN ART:
Upon entering VR, a vast, surreal nature landscape extends before the user both vertically and horizontally. Giant flowers rising out of the mist stretch toward the sky and a large, red sun moves gently in the air. The experience is enhanced by music composed for the VR piece.
A BRIDGE TO THE VIRTUAL:
The sudden transitioning to and from a virtual environment can be jarring. To soften this shift, the physical installation around the VR piece includes specifically designed features that act as a "bridge" between the worlds. Lighting, layout and curtains of the physical installation create an enclosed, soft space separated from the world outside. Sounds and scent follow the user from the real world to VR and back.
Light, sound and scent invite visitors to a private corner -a temporary escape to a quiet moment.
NON-INTRUSIVE REAL-WORLD SOUNDSCAPE:
Sound is one of the most important features of Red Sun. Hidden speakers placed around the installation space play a forest soundscape: Birdsong and the sound of trees swaying in the wind invite passersby to the installation space. This background ambience is a "bridge" between the real and virtual worlds, as it is audible in the VR piece through the headphones and designed to integrate with the music composed for Red Sun.
SCENT AS AN INVITATION:
Nature is an important component of Red Sun and in the physical installation fresh flowers are scattered on the floor of the installation space. The sweet scent of the flowers accompanies the user to the virtual world.
SLOW VR:
Trying new technology in a public setting can be an intimidating experience for new users. During the design of Red Sun, a top priority was making the meeting with VR a gentle experience for first-time users without being technically overwhelming, physically challenging or visually hyperactive. The audience is invited to sense and explore at their own pace. The term "Slow VR" introduced by Zakarian in her master thesis describes this particular category of VR works.
VR FOR NOVICES:
Red Sun was made specifically to work in public exhibitions. Prioritizing practical considerations in the design process was essential: ease of setup and use, affordability, accessibility, flexibility, mobility, robustness and to reduce staff costs during exhibitions. Learning to use hand-held controllers in order to interact with a VR experience can be too difficult, impractical and uninviting in a public setting, and these are deliberately excluded from the piece.
Swedish Premiere:
Creative Coast Festival, May 2019, Karlshamn, SE

Danish Premiere:
Universe Science Park, May 2019, Nordborg, DK