An Immersive Digital Experience

Technical Details
Title: In Austin Cary Forest | Format: Unity Player | Creation: Unity, Maya, Photoshop | Installation: On-site | Date: Spring 2014

Beginning as an exploration of the primeval forest as a place of fear and darkness, this project became an insightful look into the balance of risk versus hazard. It is based upon experiences in Gainesville’s Austin Cary Forest, a working research forest.

The viewer sets out on a journey within a massive virtual terrain, although they may find it difficult to locate themselves in the deep darkness of this Florida shrub. Precise sound engineering envelops the player in a spooky ambiance. Branches snap in the distance, owl’s shriek, and crickets drone on. But the player will inevitably stumble upon some sounds that peel away the fear from this space: interviews conducted with ¬†experts and colleagues play in certain spaces, revealing that most people are very even-tempered about the dangers of the forest. Even as the fearful darkness persists, calm voices of reason reach out.

The virtual Austin Cary Forest is modeled after the real one. It contains: classic Florida scrubland, managed and unmanaged areas, plots for growing genetically modified pine trees, areas cleared by controlled burns, deep holes, and lots of swamp.

This work was enjoyed by many visiting the Austin Cary Forest at an On-Site Installation “Forest and Art Collaboration” space. I witnessed a small army of young children monopolize it for around an hour.

Picture Gallery