Client: Vision3 and Conservation International
Location: New York, NY, United States
Completion date: 2019
In seawater, plastic bags look just like jellyfish. But jellyfish are food for sea turtles! The mixup is killing thousands of endangered sea turtles.
Conservation International’s ‘Drop in the Ocean’ uses virtual-reality edutainment to illustrate the problem and to show citizens how they can help avert tragedy.
The experience takes place under the ‘shell’ of a giant 16’ high jellyfish made of an armature of aluminum tubing covered printed stretch fabric, and illuminated with thousands of programmable LED lights. Four ‘players’ at a time participate in the seven-minute virtual reality experience, in which the viewer becomes a jellyfish, and sees a jellyfish-eye view of the ocean.
Conservation International intends this project to make an impact on the worldwide problem of plastic waste in the ocean.
This traveling exhibit/ experience must simultaneously serve technical, artistic and communication functions.
The artistic challenge was to make an immersive, interactive, virtual-reality experience that puts participants into the water, and into the plastic pollution crisis plaguing the world’s oceans.
At the same time, Vision3 wanted a structural housing for the experience that blended the virtual experience with an engaging physical environment.
Thinc Design was concerned that if the "jelly" were too abstract it wouldn’t read like a jellyfish, but if it were too realistic its anatomy would prohibit the use of the VR. Vison3 and Thinc Design created a real synergy between the form and the technical requirements of the VR infrastructure. The jellyfish form twists and contorts, creating access paths and backstage spaces that feel organic and intentional.
Vision3 partnered with Think Design, who in turn partnered with Transformit to engineer and fabricate the highly organic and sculptural shape of the jellyfish, and to integrate lighting and the virtual-reality camera tracking systems.
'Drop in the Ocean’ was co-produced by Vision3 and Conservation International, and built from the photo and video archive of Academy Award-winning micro-photographer Peter Parks. Narration is by explorers Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau, with music by Gold Panda.