The Cosmic Perspective
Using Virtual reality as a tool to reconnect people to the earth, themselves and increase empathy in the world.
Creating the experience
Building the experience, the starting point and the base of the experience was the astronaut overview effect. This was the most sectarian and best defined notion of a mystical experience that we could conger up with a very real possibility of directly having a camera feed from space or a hd digital repertisation of such a vantage point. We found that there's some companies already working on creating such thing, but no one was officially online and we lacked the technical knowledge and the time to make it in the timeframe we had to our disposal.
A big inspiration for this project is the futurist, philosopher and TV host Jason Silva work. His call to awakening video on how humanity is in desperate need of a new narrative and that notion of human needing to believe is something higher than themself. The narrative implied in this video being oneness with everything instead of separation and disconnection. This was the narrative we wanted to conway, using mind bending cosmic artwork and speeches from various sources, people and discipline, like science, philosophy, art and comedy, to create something highly unique and awe inspiring
Using awe to reconfigure people's mental models of the world
Social psychologists characterize awe as an intense emotion resulting from the perception of something vast, as well as the subsequent need to accommodate the experience (Keltner & Haidt, 2003).
“Awe is an experience of such perceptual vastness you literally have to reconfigure your mental models of the world to assimilate it” - Jason Silva
The feeling of Awe is associated with a number of psychological benefits. These experiences of awe are associated with well-being. (Rudd, Vohs, & Aaker, 2012; Van Cappellen, Saroglou, Iweins, Piovesana, & Fredrickson, 2013) as other prosocial behavior such increased altruism , although in extreme cases i may also be associated with anxiety and fear. (Piff, Dietze, Feinberg, Stancato, & Keltner, 2015)
Psychologist Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley and Jonathan Haidt of New York University outlined how awe works and affects us in a their study “Approaching Awe, A Moral, Spiritual And Aesthetic Emotion. In which they broke down awe into two seperate qualities. Percvided vastness (something we think to be greater than ourselves), and accommodation, which they described as a need to assimilate the experiences of vastness into ones current mental structure.
They continue to describe awe as emotions being “in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear.” As well as being a emotion that can have tremendous impact and a experiences that “can change the course of a life in profound and permanent ways”.
Our idea was to build a 3d awe inspiring narrative around the notion of oneness by using highly emotional music and cosmic imagery, accompanied by the sentiment of a pantheistic worldview and notion of God expressed by various philosophers, physicists, and comedians, like Bill Hicks, Alan Watts, Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Nikola Tesla to invoke a feeling of awe and wonder.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
― Albert Einstein