Shadow Self: A Transpersonal Psychedelic Experience Simulation

Product Explicit Vision

If the universe is an “auto poetic process” or a “self creating mystery” as Dr. Terrance McKenna has supposed, then we aimed to embody those notions, to simulate a DMT experience (see below for more information on what DMT is). We did so by reducing the experience to its core elements and building a world with those design principals as a north star. We tried to take advantage of the Mixed Reality Tools ability to masquerade with the rational and irrational mind. There we believe is an opportunity for a poetic process in experiential communication, where we dance

around the campfire of reason and the purposeful. We acknowledge that a simulation at its best can only be a flattening of what an authentic experience truly is. Perhaps these are mere filigrees on our memories and usurpations of research. However, what we hope to contribute is a richer object of discourse, to the battle of commun- ication in which we find ourselves. What we are trying to do is to push the frontiers of what can be said of the unspeakable into the domain of human understanding. Did we succeed or fail, what say you?

Walk Through Video VR World

This is a walk-through of levels 1 through 4 of the world we created in the Unreal Virtual Reality Engine. In the very near future we should have this output, and be able to share it as a downloadable VR game file that anyone can plug into a device to explore themselves.

© 2017 Nathaniel Smith All Rights  Reserved

Thoughts From the Creators Post Mortem

A short talk by contributing members of the build, where we discussed our thoughts on what we have built, as well as outline some ideas and inspirations.

© 2017 Nathaniel Smith All Rights  Reserved

Project Origin Story

Early on in the creation of this project, we decided to depart from a traditional narrative demonstration, as well as from simply exploring tactical demonstrations of the technology. Our goal in this project was to offer an experience to a user that they might not otherwise have. Based on our research and investigation we decided that simulating a DMT experience would offer us opportunities to explore notions where we had collective interests.

Examples of questions we investigated:
•    What does it mean to be human or to create an alien world?
•    What role would light and scale play in eliciting a number of feelings we aimed to recreate for our participants?
•    How might making gravity askew in this world contribute to bending virtual reality into very real states?

Team Photo

This project was created in an academic setting. It was born at the intersection of the Architecture and the Interaction Design departments at the California College of the Arts in a class titled Mixed Reality.  The class was led by architect Jason Anderson, who pursues research in architecture, games, and mixed reality.

We were fortunate in this class to get an opportunity, to work in a multidisciplinary team of a two interaction designers and three architects, and to build this project in the Unreal Virtual Reality game engine.
(Jason Anderson, Raja Bose, Victor Lu, Wei Wei Hsu, Nathaniel Smith)

Project Next steps

Projects like this are never done, especially given that for all of us this was our first foray into developing for mixed reality. In the very near future we should have this current manifestation output, so that we can share it as a downloadable VR game file that anyone can plug into a device and explore themselves. As to potential changes to the content, due to time constraints and for presentation purposes we dropped the user of the experience directly into the world. We didn’t build a story or a narrative because we actually did not want to tell people what our original idea was in an academic atmosphere.

We wanted them to have an experience and give feedback before we told them where the principles of what inspired us had originated. Having had some time away from the work, more first hand experience of the build ourselves, and discussing it as a group, we decided we might like to create an origin story. We are considering creating another level that the user finds herself in, to begin the journey into the world, and offering some affordance of “how” and “why” that will transition them into the more alien landscapes.

The team exploring the build at full fidelity as we refined and iterated.

Slideshow (Hover to Pause)

What is DMT anyways?

This is a decent article that outlines some ideas that should be established if you’re unfamiliar with this subject.

Primary Research

I interviewed a number of friends and discussed their DMT experiences with them. One interview that was particularly useful was with my friend Noah, who performs under the name Ssssnake. We used some of his insights to inform the Temple build in level two, and to address how we considered the relationship of all things in our world.

© 2017 Nathaniel Smith All Rights Reserved

Exploratory Secondary Research Interviews

Interviews Out-takes with Dr.Terrance McKenna:

Terrance discusses how ineffectual it is to talk about the DMT experience, and that what we need to do next is to simulate it and share it in a more contextual way that supersedes natural human language. Here Terrance is provocating on virtual reality as the logical next step in communicating DMT experiences.

Content System

This was a system refinement of the content we planned to create. We kept this as a reference point of things we were making the entire build.

Reference images and inspiration for our content.

Slideshow (Hover to Pause)

Final Assembly Stand Up

This final standup session was along the path way of aligning the flow of each level, how they are built, and how to connect them.

Short animations of the temple build process and construction.

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