Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.

“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

For the first part of this short story, please go to Agatha unravelled part 1 of 2

If you are interested in the current technological events that inspired this micro-narrative, please read my article “Venture me out of the Matrix”

This story appeared originally on my blog focusing on Narratives in Technology and Spirituality shaping our future:  Storygeist.

 

The cancer of the soul

I counted the days, something I did with alarming frequency lately, and noticed we had passed the three years mark. Three years since the Fissure.

The Fissure ignited a cancer, and it spread deep and wide, ravaged everything in its path. No one was spared. Presented with an undeniable fact, we were all living in some kind of blasted simulation, that our cold and stinky feet, our wrinkled fingers, our distorted mirror images, they were simply not real. This very fact got to everyone, sooner or later, and slowly eroded our souls. Till there was nothing left.

The suicides wouldn’t be contained. How could they be? However stigmatised they were in the media, most people considered them appropriate.  After the Fissure, people preferred to call them the Choice. Logically the least sane thing to do, however emotionally, the only logical thing to do. The choice to check out. The final protest against the nonsense of it all.

But the Fissure itself wasn’t the nail in the coffin. After all, some religions, some spritual movements and the most reverent of people, they still fought a valiant battle. Attempts were made to explain this away. Efforts to undermine the undeniable facts.  Make sense of the nonsense. And people clang onto that.  Yeah, it sure kept those poor souls going. For a while at least.

Maybe everything would have normalised, if left alone. But it wasn’t supposed to go that way.

The Think tanks, the Research facilities, the Silicon Valley hot-heads, they all had to push on, get to the bottom of this. If we were not real, then the Real Real had to exist sowmewhere. Surely.

Because somewhere deep inside, everyone still had hope this research would lead to uncovering what started it all. The question itself. If we were living in a simulated reality, where was this other place? What was its quality like? The promised Base Reality – the real reality. The supposed Nirvana.

And the break-through came alright. Only it came crushing down on our heads.  It presented a clinical and undeniable fact. Something no one had even dared to consider.

There was nowhere to escape to.

In afterthought, how could you blame the scientists? It was genuine curiosity and wonder for the mysteries of the universe which spurred them on.  Yet what we got was a blasted Pandora Box. And this time, the damned lid of disillusionment would never shut.

The final check out

I glanced at all the guests. Most of them were my friends, some even very close. They were all supportive, nurturing and sensitive to what I was going through. But the moment I let my guards down, and began to speak my mind, everyone scrambled for some other place. As far away from me as possible.

I couldn’t really blame them. My questions, my search for answers, I knew what it meant for them. It was a constant reminder of the Fissure. And no one had the strength to indulge in these kind of mindfucks.

Not any longer.

Nobody desired to be reminded their cars and houses strung out on credit were some kind of freaking illusions. Their families and the warmth they provided were just their neurons firing off figments in their heads. Everyone’s life goals, loving emotions and fulfilling moments, were yet another phony bout of the psychotropic drug called our World.

When Agatha vanished from our lives, it was met with a crushing silence – from everybody. Yes. There were some attempts at condolences, some more successful than others. But everyone fumbled. And with every fumble, it became more obvious, the epicentre of hope she represented, was torn away from us. Nobody could grasp this simple fact. She was gone. Checked out.

But it got worse. Evidence she left behind which no one was supposed to talk about. If nothing else then out of respect for the dead.

And so it spread like wildfire.

Agatha’s choice wasn’t a rash act. It was rather a delibarate and calculated preparation on her part. Done meticously and with the greatest of attention, many months before the actual event.

Her Choice was mysterious, her death was irreconcilable, but the delibarate preparation, concealed behind her compassionate smiles, that was inexplicable.

“Was she unable to sustain us all? Did she feel responsible for all of us?Were we simply asking too much of her? – “Agatha unravelled”

The questions of the past and the worries of the future

I got up. I knew my feet were supposed to carry me onto the podium. I was supposed to do my duty – deliver the Eulogy in memory of her.

I had prepared the speech many weeks prior to the event itself. I had gone by the book, even looked up how to write one. How did we meet? Check. What special moments did Agatha and I share together? Check. And that one special, funny moment that would make everyone laugh and cry, in tandem. Check.

Except, when I got up, and finally stepped into the limelight, my body froze, my mouth dried up, and the nervous system collapsed

I realised, I would never deliver that speech. No matter how pitch perfect and polished it was. It was a sham.

Everyone shot me concerned glances, eyed me with suspicion. Was the speech the last straw? A breakdown about to erupt into a mortifying scandal.

As the pause drew out into an uneasy silence, all of  a sudden, Agatha’s dog jumped up and began to lick my face. His eyes exploded with a familiar thirst for life – Agatha’s eyes. Agatha’s eyes.

Something chugged inside me. Something buried away a long time ago. And all of a sudden, I began to weep like an uncontrolled baby.

Everyone’s mouth choked on a gasp.

I din’t care. I kept on weeping without remorse.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, there was still noise. Questions about the past and worries about the future.  Were we a too heavy weight to carry on Agataha’s shoulders? Were we too much for her, with our fizzling joy of life. Was she unable to sustain us all? Did she feel responsible for all of us? Were we simply asking too much of her?  Would we make it without her? Were we strong enough?

But maybe these questions were the kind which were not supposed to be answered. Maybe the right answers were right in front of me, in those dog’s eyes.  Because when I stared into them, I felt happy, sad, elated. All of it at once.

So I hugged him even closer into me, he yelped, and exploded with joy. Did he sense me igniting back to life? Did he feel me letting go, resurfacing back to life? Maybe that’s what Agatha needed in her last moments. This joy, the present, the moment.

The Now.

If anything was real, maybe this was it.

God.

For someone who was supposed not to be real, I never felt so fucking real.

Latest News

Posters for the movie Panacea are out

The posters for the upcoming movie & novel PANACEA are available below.
The movie is in pre-production with a planned release at the end of 2018. The novel will be released through the London based publishing house “The Book Folks” at the end of 2017.

read more

The trailer for the novel A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is live

The trailer for the novel “A child made to order” is available now.
The book is live on Amazon KINDLE.

LOGLINE
“When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.”

read more

UK publishing house THE BOOK FOLKS releases the novel “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER”

The London based publishing house has just released “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER” on Amazon KINDLE. “The Book Folks” specialize in genre and literary fiction and are geared mainly towards Kindle.

LOGLINE: “When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.

read more

Storygeist blog

The emotional core of the story – part 1 of 2

Should we write only what we know? Play it safe and approach matters that we have lived through. Or should we take a wild chance, put everything on some fierce card, anything to blast our way out of the safe and comfy shell of ours. Out of our comfort zone. And what does that mean? Might it bring something deeper with it? Something which will bubble up from our subconscious, our heart(?), and attempt to enlighten our essence? To expand our inner cosmos?

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Venture me out of the Matrix

Two of the Silicon Valley’s moguls latest project is to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. This is a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of Technology and Spirituality and identify why these tech-billionaires have come to such a conclusion and what lies behind all of this, according to several ancient spiritual traditions.

read more

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

So you grab his hand, and scramble for the sliding doors. You shoulder your way across the jeering crowd. You are almost there, the way out to freedom, but as you reach the doors, they are gone. You whip your head around and realize you’ve been pushing the wrong way. But you are 100% certain the doors were on this side. No matter. So you make a valiant effort, and crash your way onto the other side of the subway. All this time Markus begs you to hurry. He is about to capsize, and every second counts. It’s your son goddamnit, and those bastards are everywhere, standing between you and your son’s life.

read more

Films & Books

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.

“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

If you are interested in the current technological events that inspired this short story, please read my article “Venture me out of the Matrix”

This story appeared originally on my blog focusing on Narratives in Technology and Spirituality shaping our future:  Storygeist.

 

 

“If you assume any rate of improvement at all then games will become indistinguishable from reality. Even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now, let’s just imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.” Given that we’re on that trajectory and that these games are increasingly playable on any device,  the odds that we are living our lives in base reality — that is, “real” reality — is one in billions.” 

– Elon Musk

The funeral wake

I was transfixed by the dog’s onyx eyes. Somewhere buried deep behind those eyes was Agatha’s secret. It had to be. It was her dog after all.  And with that secret, the answers what happened with the love of my life.

Deep down inside me, I was certain Agatha was different. Tougher, more resilient, better than us all.  She was the one who  symbolised a new kind of faith, one hard to grasp in these times.

The times after the Fissure.

That’s why her presence was cherished and why people flocked to her. After all, she was the beacon which organised the support circles, she pulled the drowning ones back onto the surface, she took the near-suicide calls in the middle of the night. And nurtured them back to life. Ignited hope in us all. Repeated endlessly to us, we were repsonsible for our reality, despite the overwhelming facts of the Fissure.

She gave us a sense of momentum, and it spoke that however bad things got inside our souls, there was still a reason to push forward. To go on with life as usual. To have the courage to walk out the damned dog. To have that high cholerstorole barbecue and enjoy the hell out of it. To drink oneself into stupor.

Just so you could, at least for a moment, pretend it was all real. What a damned lie.

My hand cuddled Agatha’s dog’s ear. I glanced up and reminded myself where I was.

A funeral wake at my house.

I eyed the black draped guests as they slid listlessly around me. Their silence filled with reverence, just as one would expect at such an occasion. Yet this silence had an odd quality to itself. It drilled itself into my ear drums, punctured them with a painful, dull absence of sound.

Why was I sitting here, cuddling Agatha’s dog, shaking all these strangers’ hands, at Agatha’s own funeral? Why was I pretending her final check out was an accident? Was it just that? Or was it her last line of protest against the undeniable facts which the Fissure presented?

Why did she fail to give me an advanced warning? If she owed me anything for the twenty years together, wouldn’t that be it? A few words, a talk, even a hysterical cry for help. I would gladly embrace all of it.

Few simple words that she would vanish for good, from my life, from her family’s life, from the people that loved her. From the kid we never had, but which I longed for so deeply.

At least my dog was real

-You ok Jon?, one of the guests whispered to me and woke me up from my thoughts. I glanced up at her, but couldn’t remember her name. Someone on Agatha’s side, a dear and friendly face.

-As good as can be expected.

-Hang in there, huh…, she clapped my shoulder, gently enough to show her compassion, and was about to leave.

-Excuse me, I stopped her mid-stride.

-Yeah?

-Did Agatha talk about her dog? Did she…? You know..? her dog?, I stuttered out.

-What do you mean?

I was about to launch into an explanation but then I realized I was being downright silly. I shook my head and waved it away.  The woman nodded, sent me a reassuring smile, then left.

But I felt everything wrench inside me, about to spew up a volcano. My mind was thrown back to the moment when Agatha had sat with her dog in the kitchen. She had smiled into those beady eyes. She had whispered, he was real, he was real.

Over and over again.

Then her face had glowed with happinness. If there ever was a disconcerting sign, maybe that had been it. Had she been hanging onto the semblance of her sanity? Had she hidden her own breakage so deeply, that no one saw it festering away inside her. Had the undeniable facts about our reality reached her mind? Blinded her will to go on.

Had the dog’s eyes, his carefree nature, and ignorance of it all, been her only rescue line?

Or was this all in my head? And her talking to the dog, repeating he was real, this had just been a simple and playful moment in her life?

The dog nudged himself into me, and I felt an ache shoot through my body. Ever since Agatha made her exit, he wouldn’t leave me, even for a split second. And when I stared into his eyes, I could almost feel them begging me. Clinging to me, needy, hurt, terrified, and outright demanding that I wouldn’t abandon him, the way his mistress did so abruptly.

No. This was not in my head. These beady eyes held the truth to my Agatha. And given time, diligence and empathy, I would comprehend.

“In afterthought, how could you blame them [the scientists] for The Fissure? It was sheer curiosity and genuine wonder for the mysteries of the universe which spurred them on. Yet what we got was a blasted Pandora Box. And this time, the lid would never shut.” – 2nd part of “Agatha unravelled”

To learn what happened during the Fissure, and the secrets behind Agatha’s choice, read the second part of “Agatha Unravelled”. Storygeist next week.

If you are interested in the current technological events that inspired this short story, please read my article “Venture me out of the Matrix”

Latest News

Posters for the movie Panacea are out

The posters for the upcoming movie & novel PANACEA are available below.
The movie is in pre-production with a planned release at the end of 2018. The novel will be released through the London based publishing house “The Book Folks” at the end of 2017.

read more

The trailer for the novel A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is live

The trailer for the novel “A child made to order” is available now.
The book is live on Amazon KINDLE.

LOGLINE
“When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.”

read more

UK publishing house THE BOOK FOLKS releases the novel “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER”

The London based publishing house has just released “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER” on Amazon KINDLE. “The Book Folks” specialize in genre and literary fiction and are geared mainly towards Kindle.

LOGLINE: “When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.

read more

Storygeist blog

The emotional core of the story – part 1 of 2

Should we write only what we know? Play it safe and approach matters that we have lived through. Or should we take a wild chance, put everything on some fierce card, anything to blast our way out of the safe and comfy shell of ours. Out of our comfort zone. And what does that mean? Might it bring something deeper with it? Something which will bubble up from our subconscious, our heart(?), and attempt to enlighten our essence? To expand our inner cosmos?

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Venture me out of the Matrix

Two of the Silicon Valley’s moguls latest project is to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. This is a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of Technology and Spirituality and identify why these tech-billionaires have come to such a conclusion and what lies behind all of this, according to several ancient spiritual traditions.

read more

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

So you grab his hand, and scramble for the sliding doors. You shoulder your way across the jeering crowd. You are almost there, the way out to freedom, but as you reach the doors, they are gone. You whip your head around and realize you’ve been pushing the wrong way. But you are 100% certain the doors were on this side. No matter. So you make a valiant effort, and crash your way onto the other side of the subway. All this time Markus begs you to hurry. He is about to capsize, and every second counts. It’s your son goddamnit, and those bastards are everywhere, standing between you and your son’s life.

read more

Films & Books

Venture me out of the Matrix

Venture me out of the Matrix

VR & Storytelling seen through a filmmaker’s eyes.

Two of the silicon Valley’s moguls latest project is to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. This is a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of Technology and Spirituality and identify why these tech-billionaires have come to such a conclusion and what lies behind all of this, according to several ancient spiritual traditions.

This article appeared originally on my blog focusing on Narratives in Technology and Spirituality shaping our future:  Storygeist.

 

“If you assume any rate of improvement at all then games will become indistinguishable from reality. Even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now, let’s just imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.” Given that we’re on that trajectory and that these games are increasingly playable on any device,  the odds that we are living our lives in base reality — that is, “real” reality — is one in billions.” 

– Elon Musk

Venture me, by way of tech, out of the Matrix

A tech-story has been making the rounds lately on the net, even reaching Poland and Norway, by way of translations. A lot of commotion and surprise has been created because of project set in motion by of two tech-moguls from the Silicon Valley. The project’s goal, to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. No one is naming names, but the media immediately pinpointed Elon Musk and Peter Thiel as the main suspects.

This doesn’t come as a shocker since Musk has been quoted countless times referring to our reality as a simulated one.  What would seem as some kind of DMT induced semi-spiritual-psychedelic trip straight from the Wachowski’s trilogy, is now even being hailed by the Bank of America as being a 50% chance of being real.

All of this is quite fascinating to observe and I felt a strong urge to write about this because this is such a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of  Technology and Spirituality. Something which this blog is all about.

First of all, let’s get one thing out of the way. The reasons for the movie’s Matrix popularity. Many have claimed it was because of the special effects, or because of the dynamic storytelling, hell yeah, maybe even because of Keanu Reeves (??). And there were those who identified, more to the point, that it was because of the message behind this story. And this was getting closer the truth.  But we need to go deeper than that. Because not all messages are created equal.

In my opinion, it wasn’t the flashy visuals, or the brilliant storytelling which lifted up the first movie into a cult classic. It was because the Wachowski brothers touched upon a theme which was a Universal Truth.

Whether this was a wholly conscious act or an unciounscious momentary enlighentment/madness, remains for another discussion. But the idea of our world  being a prison which we have to escape from, resonnated deeply in the masses.

And apparently this idea’s Universal Truth just keeps infecting its way deeper into the collective counsciousness. Finally materializing itself into the present actions being undertaken by the tech-billionaires.

Now, I have two reasons to touch upon what is happening right now. First, it is to look at the source of the Matrix idea, which for many on the spiritual path is quite evident. Second, I want to look at what potential chances, the likes of Elon Musk have to break out of the Illusion, which is our world – with the technological means which he proposes.

And if not, are there any other means to escape?

 

If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” – Nikola Tesla

The world as a penal colony

It’s no huge revelation that the ideas proposed by Matrix stem from an ancient Christian tradition of Gnostics. Parallell to the Orthodox christianity, it was a spiritual movement which evolved during the beginning of the Common Era. The Gnostics perceived the world they lived in as a prison made by a false God, named Yaldabaoth, who enslaved the humanity in a material world, named the Dialectical world, think The Matrix. This world served also as a penal colony for every being,

In order to free themselves from the shackles of this God, and the reincarnation wheel, which they saw as a never ending imprisonment, the Gnostics saw Gnosis as the escape. Gnosis being the insight, which was gained during a conciouss and mindful inner experience of the mind and spirit. In more relatable terms, think of gaining Gnosis as reaching Enlightenment. (For more on the Gnostic myths, please see below in this story).

There are quite a lot of parallells between this world view and the Buddhistic philosophy. Although the Buddhists perceive our world as one filled with suffering, their goal is the same, to break out of the Matrix, in other words, out of the Samsara cycle (the reincarnation wheel)

So with this in mind, let’s get back to Elon Musk.

 

“Every man has to react to the Gnosis. However, the way he does so is closely linked to his state of consciousness. The Gnosis will only be able to lift him above his state of being when, on the basis of true insight, he can say: ‘Thy will be done’..” 

Jan van Rijckenborgh

The venture capital to break us free – the Elon Musk way

I think there are a couple of very admirable, and positive things about what Elon Musk is trying to do. First off, when he reasons our reality is not the base reality, it is the echo of Gnosis, the intuitive knowledge which whispers to him, something is not right. It is the world draped over our eyes – a fatamorgana begging to be revealed.

And just as Neo, it is Gnosis which pushes him towards a path of seeking for the answers.

But here it ends.

The Gnostics were very clear on one matter. There were no Dialectical means, meaning of this material world, which were able to break anyone out of the Matrix.  If Musk hopes to find, by technological means, answers on how to escape the Matrix, he is interpreting this a bit too literally. Yes, we might be in a hyper realistic Virtual Reality created by some ancient civilization (the Absolute?), a huge experiment. It is also quite possible that when the Gnostics talk about their heaven or Buddhists mention their Nirvana, or even Matrix’s the Source, it is the same ultra high-vibratory state of pure Energy which Elon Musk points to as “The Base Reality” – the true reality.

But I would rather think of the Matrix as something entirely else and way less literal. I would rather perceive it as a state of conciousness.

And only by lifting ourselves up into a higher state of conciousness, in other words a deeper inner insight, are we able to realise that we are imprisoned. But the prison is again not literal. It is within us, it is self-constructed, self-ordained by our ego.

We are shackled by our own instinctive drives, desires, longings and other earthly attachments. And by attaining the kind of insight which culminates the first Matrix movie, Neo’s Enlightenment or Gnosis, we free ourselves from this world.

Not literaly. But within our heart.

We attain Universal Love.

The schackles of our ego, the artificial construct which has us imprisoned, in order to hinder us from the Absolute truth as taught by Dalai Lama and countless other spiritual traditions – Universal Love. (Image: Shutterstock)

The Gnostic myths

(excerpt taken from an article by Frances Flannery-Dailey, Hendrix CollegeandRachel Wagner, The University of Iowa)

In the Gnostic myth, the supreme god is completely perfect, a being of “immeasurable light which is pure, holy and immaculate”. In addition to this god there are others lesser divine beings in the Pleroma (akin to heaven, a division of the universe that is not earth).

A problem arises when one being named Sophia, a female, decides “to bring forth a likeness out of herself without the consent of the Spirit,” Sophia’s action produces an offspring that is imperfect, and she casts it away from the other divine beings in the Pleroma into a separate region of the cosmos.

This malformed, ignorant deity, named Yaldaboath, mistakenly believes himself to be the only god.

Gnostics identify Yaldabaoth as the Creator who decides to create the material world (earth) and human beings. Yaldabaoth is tricked into breathing the divine spark or spirit of his mother Sophia, that formerly resided in him, into the human being.

Therein lies the human dilemma. We are pearls in the mud, a divine spirit (good) trapped in a material body (bad) and a material realm (bad). Heaven is our true home, but we are in exile from our Divine state.

The Gnostic saw salvation in the form of Gnosis. which involves an understanding of our true nature and origin, the metaphysical reality hitherto unknown to us, resulting in the Gnostic’s escape from the enslaving material prison of the world and the body, into the upper regions of Spirit.

Latest News

Posters for the movie Panacea are out

The posters for the upcoming movie & novel PANACEA are available below.
The movie is in pre-production with a planned release at the end of 2018. The novel will be released through the London based publishing house “The Book Folks” at the end of 2017.

read more

The trailer for the novel A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is live

The trailer for the novel “A child made to order” is available now.
The book is live on Amazon KINDLE.

LOGLINE
“When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.”

read more

UK publishing house THE BOOK FOLKS releases the novel “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER”

The London based publishing house has just released “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER” on Amazon KINDLE. “The Book Folks” specialize in genre and literary fiction and are geared mainly towards Kindle.

LOGLINE: “When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.

read more

Storygeist blog

The emotional core of the story – part 1 of 2

Should we write only what we know? Play it safe and approach matters that we have lived through. Or should we take a wild chance, put everything on some fierce card, anything to blast our way out of the safe and comfy shell of ours. Out of our comfort zone. And what does that mean? Might it bring something deeper with it? Something which will bubble up from our subconscious, our heart(?), and attempt to enlighten our essence? To expand our inner cosmos?

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Venture me out of the Matrix

Two of the Silicon Valley’s moguls latest project is to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. This is a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of Technology and Spirituality and identify why these tech-billionaires have come to such a conclusion and what lies behind all of this, according to several ancient spiritual traditions.

read more

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

So you grab his hand, and scramble for the sliding doors. You shoulder your way across the jeering crowd. You are almost there, the way out to freedom, but as you reach the doors, they are gone. You whip your head around and realize you’ve been pushing the wrong way. But you are 100% certain the doors were on this side. No matter. So you make a valiant effort, and crash your way onto the other side of the subway. All this time Markus begs you to hurry. He is about to capsize, and every second counts. It’s your son goddamnit, and those bastards are everywhere, standing between you and your son’s life.

read more

Films & Books

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

VR & Storytelling as seen through a filmmaker’s eyes

In the first installment of this series I wrote about how seasoned game fanatics were turned into crying babies by the power of the VR medium. In the second installment, I went into the hurdles which the VR-medium poses on the storyteller. And in the third part, I took a peek at what the future might hold for VR and how future VR-makers might use new tools which are becoming available right now. In the fourth part I talked about Story Masters and the over arching idea.

This time around, I want  to dive into the subconcsious sauce of a potential protagonist.

The inner world of the character

My intention this time around is to take a look at how one might enter the inner world of our protagonist through the VR-medium and the first person narrative.

I’ve chosen a scene from my soon to be published novel A child made to order. I chose this scene because of the way it’s written. Meaning, it’s filled with inner monologue which is difficult, if not impossible, to translate into a visual medium like film or VR. And unless we want to resort to some very crude voice-over, we will have to look for other solutions. On the other hand, this scene also has a clear and tangible line of action performed by the protagonist which is the manifestation of her inner drives and desires.

Viola, the protagonist of the novel is a forty year old woman struggling with infertility due to a rare genetic disease. After quite a few unsuccessfull attempts, she finally managed to give birth to a small boy named Markus. However due to her genetic disease, Markus died only a few years later. Scarred by grief and struggling with shame, Viola has never managed to recover after this.

When I set out to write this scene, I wanted to convey to the reader a sense of how deeply Viola is tainted by her past. A history which acts as a distorting lens through which she views the world.

Let’s dive into it.

Wednesday, 13th February 2016

The subway was filled to the brim. Viola’s breathing grew more desperate by the second. She knew she couldn’t go on like this for much longer. She couldn’t stand these people or her situation.

The last two years had been so by the book. Under control, just as she expected of her life. After her breakdown, shortly after Markus, she had done some grim therapy sessions. The luxurious retreat had cost way more than she could spend at the time. But her mother was more than happy to pay for her daughter’s well-being. After all, it was either that or be forced to reveal a failure in the family.

And Anne didn’t accept anything less than success in her life. So Viola spent two months in the northern part of Norway, just to make her mum happy. She proved to everyone, including herself, the breakdown was just a coincidence. A sudden blip on the radar that would never show up again. Anne was happy that Viola seemed stable. Or at least could fool the experts into thinking this was the case.

Still, the retreat had not been all that bad. It helped her to regain some much-needed distance to herself. It had also taught her some basic meditation techniques. She was never much into spirituality or New Age thinking. Her mind was way too pragmatic to even consider going down that road. But the basic meditations had done wonders for her. And ever since then, she had done the breath-focused meditations each morning.

Now, as she stood in the cramped subway, choking on the lack of air, she attempted again to focus on the breath. And what usually worked wonders, did nothing for her now. On the contrary, she got even more agitated, bordering on delirious.

When she was finally prepared to push herself towards a premature exit, something caught her eye. A boy’s profile standing sideways to her. Perfectly curly blond hair and that nice rounded chin.

It looked just like him.

Markus.

Viola blinked once, twice. And the more closely she peered at him, the more she became mesmerised by every single detail about his features.

Viola began to push herself towards him. Shouldered everybody in order to reach the boy. And he was just standing there, all by himself. All alone. And then it struck her. It wasn’t just that he looked like Markus.

Maybe it was Markus.

After all, it would make sense. He could have gotten lost. And, somehow, he was taking this subway, maybe he was even looking for her. Hoping to find his mother again.

She pressed on, elbowed her way through, and when she finally reached him, he spun around towards her. A flash of recognition passed through her body. His ethereal face looked right into her eyes.

Of course.

It was Markus.

It all made sense now. Him being here, finding him, a miracle.

Everything that followed was just bliss.

The feeling of the boy’s soft hand against her callous palm. The trustful exchange of glances between them. And she realised all this suffering she’d had to endure, it wasn’t for nothing. No. It was just so she could find him. Right here, right now. As their eyes met, she understood he was just as alone and lost as she had been.

But at this moment, nothing would ever come between them again. And nothing would force her to let go of his hand.

As she drew him out of the subway, Viola suddenly felt a woman’s hand lash at her back. The woman’s fingers wrenched at her coat, and her eyes glared with a blistering accusation.

Viola thought the subway stations gathered all kinds of crazies. And this woman had to be one of them. So she shielded her Markus, and decided to make a run for it. She had to get him to safety.

But she had barely made it across the platform when words finally pierced through her clouded mind.

“What the fuck, Lady! What the hell are you doing with my son?” the woman shrieked at Viola. And this time, she ripped the boy away from Viola’s hand. And as she peered into the kid’s face, Viola was hit by a simple realisation.

Not Markus.

Not Markus.

After that, other accusations followed. Lots of nasty words were thrown at her. Unintelligible, toxic threats of police and other grim consequences. Stuff she knew she couldn’t deal with.

So she made a run for it. And as she escaped, she was encapsulated by a dense fog.

The main protagonist and the distorted lens that is her mind.  (Image, Shutterstock)

The  adaptation process of the narrative into VR

So with this small scene in mind, let’s try and map out a similar narrative for VR.  A little story which would convey the same over arching idea as in the novel – Our scars and traumas from the past are, for better or worse, the single most defining quality for how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, in the present.

Keep in mind the goal. Not only do we want to experiment with the adaptation and see what works in VR and what doesn’t. But through this micro-narrative, we want to see what kind of tools might be available in order to drill ourselves into the inner world of our protagonist, get under her skin without the all too obvious and literal voice-overs or expositional dialog/text.

For this little experiment, let’s also say we only have  today’s tech at our disposal. Meaning a game engine like Unity or Unreal Engine, and simple game logics programming.

Wednesday, 13th February 2016

Your eyes take in the whole subway. It’s filled to the brim, people squeezing at your body left and right and your breath spinning out of control.

Then you notice something peculiar. Someone is holding your hand. You glance down, and catch a glimpse of a boy’s tiny hand. It yanks at you, calls for your attention. You peer right into the boy’s face.

You see Markus. There is no doubt about.

It’s your son.

“Mum? I can’t….”

He is trying to tell you something but his puny voice is drowned by the subways jeering noise. And judging from the burning urgency in his face, this is a matter of life and death.

So you fight your way to more space, you push away the sordid and obnoxious woman beside you, shoulder past the grubby, unshaven man, just so you can kneel in front of him.

And finally, as your ear brushes against the boy’s lips, you hear a distinct.

“Mum? I can’t… breathe…  Out. Please. I need to get out.”

So you grab his hand, and scramble for the sliding doors. You shoulder your way across the jeering crowd, you trash and jerk away at the people who are standing between you and your son’s well being.

You are almost there, the way out to freedom, but as you reach the doors, they are gone. You whip your head around and realize you’ve been pushing the wrong way. But you are 100% certain the doors were on this side. 

No matter.

So you make a valiant effort, and crash your way onto the other side. All this time Markus, begs you to hurry. He is about to capsize, and every second counts. It’s your son goddamnit, and those bastards are everywhere, standing in your way and his life.

You blast out of the subway, clinging onto your little treasure, saving him from the most certain death.

Once you get out and onto the platform, Markus begs you to stop, yanks at your hand. He pleads with his beady eyes for help. The boy is hyperventilating, his face wrenched in pain. In the next instant, he slides to the ground.

You catch him before he falls, and realize you have to get him to a medic. So despite his weight, you wrench him up and into your arms. And you scatter down the platform. But the further you get, the slower the progress becomes.

Then you hear some shrieks behind you, way too distant to intercept at first. You realize Markus is fighting you, trying to halt your progress. The shouting finally drills right into your brain-stem, unequivocally pristine.

“Lady! What the fuck, Lady! What the hell are you doing with my son?”

You whip your head around, inspecting for the source of this voice. Your eyes lock onto a woman just behind you. Before you can do anything, she lashes at you, then rips the boy away from your grip.

You glimpse into the kid’s face, and you are hammered by a simple realisation.

This is not Markus. Not Markus.

After that, other accusations followed. Lots of nasty words are thrown at you. Menaces of police and other grim consequences. And seeing security personell racing towards you, you see these threats might realize a lot sooner than expected.

So you make a dash for it.

The secret sauce of this, and any medium, the inner world of the protagonist. (Image, Shutterstock)

The storytelling sauce digested

So this was the same scene but tuned into something which might work in VR. There was one major hurdle to overcome to make this work. In the original scene (from the novel), the protagonist noticed her own child in a way which was quite passive. It was all internal and literary. Fine for a novel, but trying to replicate this in VR would most probably end in disaster.

Please keep in mind, that I’ve outlined the story in a linear way. The game logics, and the branching “what ifs” are not the focus of this article.

In a non-linear narrative, I had to do more legwork into engaging the VR-participant. This was done by making the child way more active. In the VR-version, Markus propels himself towards us, yanks at our arm and begs us to save him from what must appears to be a life threatening situation. This immediately creates an urgency and a goal for us. Get our newly found son out of the subway before he suffocates to death.

And from here on, it’s the storyteller’s job, to make the seemingly easy task, get of the subway, nearly impossible. So Viola attempts to fight her way through the dense crowd, and for every turn, the situation gets worse. The people turn more aggressive, and Markus’ situation more dire. Everything happens in real time, there are no cuts or fades – we want the real-time, continuosus and hyper-realistic immediacy of VR. Yet as we turn one way, the subway doors are missing on the right side, despite that we saw them there a moment ago.

Adn when we finally manage to get out, we realize we’ve been dragging some boy stranger by the arm.

So this scene uses several methods to alter the reality, in order to pull us into the protagonist’s head. The crowd which turns more aggressive by the minute, the doors which are misplaced, and finally the boy who turns out to be someone else.

And this is what I think VR will excel at. Manipulation of the reality and the environment in real time. All this, so we can drill ourselves into the mind of the protagonist.

Personally, I think that if these narrative tools are supposed to have an emotional impact on the VR-particpant, they have to be done “under the hood”. Meaning, we have to slide into the main character’s head without crude queues which might imply this. Or in other words, as is apparent in the VR-version of the narrative, there are no visual queues which suggest Markus is some other boy, suggesting this is just happening in our head.

So it becomes all the more poignant point at the end, when we realise what we have done. How our senses have distorted our reality.   And ultimately, how a character struggling with personal issues like Viola might feel. Why she does what she does, however illogical or insane it might seem at first.

Or to repeat the over-arching idea. Our scars and traumas from the past are, for better or worse, the single most defining quality for how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, in the present.

What are the most burning questions for us artists, in any medium? (Image, Shutterstock)

Vision and storytelling

Considering how technical the VR-medium is, it was unavoidable with all the tech-talk of the previous articles. So this leads me to a question which I heard recently. And it went something like this:

“But do you have any experience in VR?”

This is a question which probably many budding VR-makers will be confronted with.

And although it’s a perfectly valid question, implicitly, it’s also a question focused on technology.  Don’t get me wrong, personally I love tools and technology, as they’ve consistently made new art forms available to us. But ultimately they are just that – tools.  I know because I come from an animation background with Maya, TV and feature film work. But whether it’s Maya for building 3D assets, rigging and animating them, or using Unity and Unreal Engine for VR-development, given enough time, technical skills can be mastered.

But developing storytelling maturity, and a unique artistic vision? Well, that’s a lifetime.

So coming back to the original question. If you really want to get more specific about VR, maybe it could sound something like this: “How do you transpose a story, any story, simple or layered with meaning, into a medium which, right now, is in its infancy, has so many limitations, so many unknows, and most of all, an undefined language?”

Though ultimately, I think the most burning question for us storytellers, in any medium, will always be: “What do you have to say about the human state, and the world around you which is uniquely yours?”

The end?

So for now, this is the end of my VR-series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and I would love to hear what you think.

Personally, I think VR holds an incredible potential, especially when the A.I. algorithms come up to speed, so they can drive the human psychology in a believable way. But my heart still beats the strongest for the rigorous yet sublime beauty of the film image, and the abundant richness of the novel’s narrative.

Latest News

Posters for the movie Panacea are out

The posters for the upcoming movie & novel PANACEA are available below.
The movie is in pre-production with a planned release at the end of 2018. The novel will be released through the London based publishing house “The Book Folks” at the end of 2017.

read more

The trailer for the novel A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is live

The trailer for the novel “A child made to order” is available now.
The book is live on Amazon KINDLE.

LOGLINE
“When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.”

read more

UK publishing house THE BOOK FOLKS releases the novel “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER”

The London based publishing house has just released “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER” on Amazon KINDLE. “The Book Folks” specialize in genre and literary fiction and are geared mainly towards Kindle.

LOGLINE: “When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.

read more

Storygeist blog

The emotional core of the story – part 1 of 2

Should we write only what we know? Play it safe and approach matters that we have lived through. Or should we take a wild chance, put everything on some fierce card, anything to blast our way out of the safe and comfy shell of ours. Out of our comfort zone. And what does that mean? Might it bring something deeper with it? Something which will bubble up from our subconscious, our heart(?), and attempt to enlighten our essence? To expand our inner cosmos?

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Venture me out of the Matrix

Two of the Silicon Valley’s moguls latest project is to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. This is a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of Technology and Spirituality and identify why these tech-billionaires have come to such a conclusion and what lies behind all of this, according to several ancient spiritual traditions.

read more

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

So you grab his hand, and scramble for the sliding doors. You shoulder your way across the jeering crowd. You are almost there, the way out to freedom, but as you reach the doors, they are gone. You whip your head around and realize you’ve been pushing the wrong way. But you are 100% certain the doors were on this side. No matter. So you make a valiant effort, and crash your way onto the other side of the subway. All this time Markus begs you to hurry. He is about to capsize, and every second counts. It’s your son goddamnit, and those bastards are everywhere, standing between you and your son’s life.

read more

Films & Books

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 4

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 4

VR & Storytelling as seen through a filmmaker’s eyes

In the first installment of this series I wrote about how seasoned game fanatics were turned into crying babies by the power of the VR medium. In the second installment, I went into the hurdles which the VR-medium poses on the storyteller. And in the third part, I took a peek at what the future might hold for VR and how future VR-makers might use new tools which are becoming available right now.

This time around, I want to dive into some basic storytelling, in order to illustrate some of my points.

(This story appeared originally on my Blog Storygeist.com)

Involuntary prisoner of your own nightmares

Your eyes blink open, then blink again. You attempt to grasp at a coherence, but the only thing before you is a dense fog.  Your eyes shutter again and finally a smeared out vision coalesces into what looks like a hospital room. Now, if you could only remember how you got here, where is here, or who you are for that matter. Minor details. The only thing whis is certain is that your pupils have serious trouble adjusting to the reality at hand. Do the windows seem skewed, or are you just going out of your mind?

This is interrupted by a nurse who races into the room. Soon you are vivid enough to realise what she is saying to you.  She probes you delicately for simple facts, your name, your age, and other basic things. Simple enough, right? Well, no. You just woke up and your brain feels like it’s been churned through a meat grinder. And when she fails to get any sensible answer from you, her face fills with worry. Or is it simply pity? She tells you that maybe it’s for the better. What is for the better, you ask. That you don’t remmeber anything, she murmurs under her nose.

Did she really say that? Or did you just imagine it? You scramble for some simple answers. How come does a stranger know a hell of a lot more about you than you do? But before you can stuttter out something meaningful, the girl leaves just as hastily as she came in.

You grab onto the glass of water on the night table. But you realise it’s gone. even though you are sure it was there a moment ago. You glance at the walls, and they feel like they are about to come down on you, suffocating at you from every corner. Are they pulsing with your breath or is it just your heart spewing up adrenaline into your brain, making you an involuntary prisoner of your worst nightmares. You realise that if you stay around here for just one more second, your thoughts are going to drown your mind.

Fortunately there are options. You don’t have to stay around here, answer to some goddamned nurses,  attempt to make sense of this situation. There are alternatives, and none of them seem better at this moment than fleeing this place.

So you grab onto the bed railing and are about to blast off the bed. At least that’s the intention. Except, it turns out that you don’t. You can’t. You can’t move an inch. And that’s when you realise, the place where your toes, your knees, and calfs should have been, there is nothing. Just an empty void.

You hear someone screaming. A muffled shriek. Probably from another room. It has to be. Pour wretched soul.

But when you readjust to it, you realise it’s only yourself, screaming for help.

The baloon that kindles our soul, in the darkest hours. Hope just within reach, yet unobtainable. (Image, Shutterstock)

The  exposition of the narrative in VR

This is an unwritten story, just a snippet of an idea.  This story’s point is not to have some attention grabbing or thrilling high-concept. On the contrary it was to be a “realistic” and psychological approach to a major life crisis.

Its goal was to prototype how one might approach starting off a VR-story. In other words, how do you introduce the main character without doing a major info dump on the character’s life, relations and values.  How do you dramatise something as serious as a car accident, and the post traumatic feeling of disorentation, loss, fear and depression. How do you show it in VR? And also how do you use the power of this medium to show the inner-world of the character?

Let me point out why I think this story might be a good fit for VR.

The main thing was to start right off the bat, to make us active. Meaning, creating a situation which puts us right in the middle of the narrative, where we as the participant need to get answers. But the answers aren’t handed to you on a platter, or told to us by some omni-present narrator. We have to fight for them, but only because we need to find out what happened. So immediately we kick off with some major narrative questions. What happened to the main character? Why is the nurse not sharing anything with us? Why does she think that it might be better that we don’t remember anything? Did she really say something as insensitive as that? Why is the reality being so heavily distorted? And ultimately, how will we deal with this life crisis?

Gradually these questions are revelead to us, or dramatised by real and psychological encounters with the nurse, later on the doctors and finally the family.

These encounters force us, to make sense of what happened. And most importantly to take action, in order to learn what happened. To speak to people, to learn about oneself, to learn about the past, and to deal with the trauma in order to push the narrative forward. As the secrets are slowly revealed, we have to take a personal stance to this character’s past life.

The over arching idea

And while she/he (the main character of the story) starts over, basically from scratch, we as participants discover the fallout of this character’s past life’s wrong doings and toxic nature.  While we participate, we have to, day by day, make difficult choices in our new life.

Do we become embittered by what life has given us, deny the help of our family, everyone around us? Or would we learn to appreciate the simple things which this new situation presents to us? Do we take responsibility for our past actions, and move on?

All these choices are forced upon us, through the encounters with differeent characters in this VR-narrative.

The over arching idea of this story might then go something like this: Tragedies happen all the time, at various scales. Sometimes the only choice we have left, is how we deal with them.

So through this narrative we would be in control of what life path we choose, despite the hardships dealt by life. And in this narrative, through our participation, we would not be told how to think. We would rather have to make up our own minds, perform our own actions in order to come to terms with life. This would be the power of this story. The choice bestowed upon us by this medium.

Much like life itself.

The over arching idea – to transcend a crisis, to transcend ourselves and the limitations life poses on us.  (Image, Shutterstock)

And what about the glue that holds it all together?

Last time I promised to talk about some kind of magical glue – a Story Master.

Dungeons & Dragons had a Dunegon Master who was in control of the story, and who would be the medium through which the players experienced his vision. And so it  would be in the case of  this VR-experience.  Each story would have to be steered by a controlling idea. The over arching concept. What is the story about? What are we trying to convey to the participant, despite the boundless freedom given by this kind of interactive experience/story.

With this over arching and controlling idea, the Story Master would role play the main characters of the narrative through several, escalating, psychological encounters. To be more concrete, the Story Master would use a similar technology to the one mentioned in my last article (Ninja Theory’s facial motion capture) and participate in the your story as the nurse, as the doctor, or as the family members. Each with their own psychology and character traits.

And with this over arching idea, the Story Master’s ultimate message, he would create the story together with us.

The secret sauce of this, and any medium, the inner world of the protagonist. (Image, Shutterstock)

The ultimate beauty of this medium

This story concept is just one way, out of a myriad others, how one might deal with a VR-narrative. It illustrates how to make use of the immersion of the medium, tell a story without dumping tons of exposition on the participant, and let him write their own story (within bounds of the pre-planned improvised narrative but within the over arching idea).  All this so the participant can tell a story which is her own and ultimately personal.

And this very fact is what would lift this experience into a new space. A place where not only the VR-maker (the director, story master) makes up the story, but where there is a collaborative effort between the storyteller and the viewer/participant to forge and improvise a wholly unique tale.

If you ask me, that just might be the ultimate beauty of the VR-medium.

The secret sauce called art.

But there is more, a “secret” ingredient.

For a filmmaker, it’s just as important to pay attention to what he is saying through his story, as to how he is telling the story through images. And the VR-medium presents a unique opportunity, which my little story from the hospital already hinted at.

I’ll give you a clue – subjective POV, only this time, done in VR – the filmmaker’s secret weapon to enter the inner world of the main character. And if done subtly enough, it’s able to elevate simple moving images into the sublime.

Let’s talk about it next time.

Latest News

Posters for the movie Panacea are out

The posters for the upcoming movie & novel PANACEA are available below.
The movie is in pre-production with a planned release at the end of 2018. The novel will be released through the London based publishing house “The Book Folks” at the end of 2017.

read more

The trailer for the novel A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is live

The trailer for the novel “A child made to order” is available now.
The book is live on Amazon KINDLE.

LOGLINE
“When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.”

read more

UK publishing house THE BOOK FOLKS releases the novel “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER”

The London based publishing house has just released “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER” on Amazon KINDLE. “The Book Folks” specialize in genre and literary fiction and are geared mainly towards Kindle.

LOGLINE: “When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.

read more

Storygeist blog

The emotional core of the story – part 1 of 2

Should we write only what we know? Play it safe and approach matters that we have lived through. Or should we take a wild chance, put everything on some fierce card, anything to blast our way out of the safe and comfy shell of ours. Out of our comfort zone. And what does that mean? Might it bring something deeper with it? Something which will bubble up from our subconscious, our heart(?), and attempt to enlighten our essence? To expand our inner cosmos?

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Venture me out of the Matrix

Two of the Silicon Valley’s moguls latest project is to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. This is a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of Technology and Spirituality and identify why these tech-billionaires have come to such a conclusion and what lies behind all of this, according to several ancient spiritual traditions.

read more

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

So you grab his hand, and scramble for the sliding doors. You shoulder your way across the jeering crowd. You are almost there, the way out to freedom, but as you reach the doors, they are gone. You whip your head around and realize you’ve been pushing the wrong way. But you are 100% certain the doors were on this side. No matter. So you make a valiant effort, and crash your way onto the other side of the subway. All this time Markus begs you to hurry. He is about to capsize, and every second counts. It’s your son goddamnit, and those bastards are everywhere, standing between you and your son’s life.

read more

Films & Books

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 3

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 3

VR & Storytelling as seen through a filmmaker’s eyes

In the first installment of this series I wrote about how seasoned game fanatics were turned into crying babies by the power of the VR medium, thereby proving what potential psychologically this medium holds. I also touched upon the utterly heart wrenching semi-interactive story “That Dragon Cancer” which proved that some artists do have something wortwhile to tell.

In the second installment, I went into the hurdles which the VR-medium poses on the storyteller. I also laid out a humble appeal to the future VR-filmmakers for  stories which search for, and question, something deeper, more humane, existential and morally complex, than what most games/interactive stories have to offer right now

As promised in this third part, I would like to see what the future holds for VR.  And with this, I would like to draft my own personal vision, a rough crystal ball, of a new kind of movie/hyper-reality experience which I believe VR is headed for during this decade.  In my opinion this experience holds so much promies on so many levels, that this just might be the place where the true screenwriting/actor/theater/film talent will be heading for.

In order to get to an experience which might have a shot at showing the full potential of VR,  we need to take a look at a few of the emerging technologies which are happening around the world right this moment.

Hurdle number one – 1:1 room scale environments

In my personal opinion, there are two major hurdles to overcome. The physicality of the world. Meaning the expierence needs to deliver a 1:1 room scale environment which imitates the Virtual space. And second, the psychology and interactions which need to take place in this world have to mimic the real world. Let’s take a closer look at both of them. Let’s dive into the first of those.

This year has given us a promising glimpse into what the true potential of VR holds. The Occulus, the HTC Vive, and a myriad others have materialized onto the market. You can install each one of them at home. Despite the steep access prize, and  the high-end gear requirements, it’s available right this moment for you to enjoy at home.

All of these systems deliver different  levels of  immersion, but where everyone of them ultimately fails is the sense of being in the environmet at 1:1 scale. HTC Vive can map your movement onto your surroundings, so you can actually walk around. That’s a big step in the right direction. But this is also limited to the space confined within a couple of meters. Whenever you need to move further,  you have to teleport within the game. And to say the least, this obliterates any feeling of being in the Virtual environment.

But there are some guys in the US who are working hard and chipping away at this challenge. And they might have just solved it with their Hyper-reality.

Image from the company the Void, depicting their experience, coined Hyper-Reality

Stepping into Hyper-Reality

The Void is the name of the relatively new start up from Salt Lake City, US, and it is also the name of the VR experience they are creating.  But to call their vision VR wouldn’t be quite doing it proper justice. Instead they coin their experience, Hyper-Reality. And rightly so. In my opinion, this is VR done right, in the sense that they have built a physical theme park from the ground up which corresponds exactly 1:1 to the digital environment in their Virtual world.

This means that when you step into this theme park, put on the vest, and the VR goggles named Rapture, you are transported into a world which you can walk around, run, and most of all, touch. When you pass through a door, you can literaly touch the door handle, push the door frame open. When you approach a wall, it will be there, exatly as you would expect it.

Check out the Video on the Void to get a better understanding of what I am talking about.

So it goes without saying that this kind of immersion puts us in a completely different category of experience.

“While the phenomenon of “presence” in VR is well-documented, inducing shared presence—experienced among people in different physical spaces, and bolstered by the immersive power of physical feedback—is the milestone that will unlock the medium for good.” Wired

Image from the Ghostbusters VR experience playing in London and done by the people from Void. This experience puts a small team of players into a fully immersive environment which is built as an exact replica of the VR-space.

Another hurdle – this time psychological

But the second point is a bit more tricky. I am talking about the psychology and interactions which need to take place in this VR-world and mimic the real world. It is absolutely necessary to be able to communicate with other characters in a believable way, in order to play out the dramatic narratives.

The interactions between characters playing in the Void, with their team interactions, point us in the right direction. The cooperative game and the multiplayer social experience is what will draw the masses to these theme parks. But this kind of approach can only get us as far as the First Person Shooter genre or Horror VR-experiences like Paranormal Activity VR.

If we want to go further, and create genuine human drama, we need to have proper human interaction. And I am not talking about the A.I.-level of human dialog/communication which is available at this moment. That simply won’t cut it. While I am a strong believer in Artificial Intelligence, I also think that Kurzweil is wildly optimistic. I just don’t think that we will see A.I. advanced enough to pull off a true dramatic narrative for at least two more decades. (Still, I do hope I am way off on this)

But I don’t think we need one. And we might have all the tools available to do something which might be inherently more believable and at the same time social. A new kind of theatre. But this time,  interactive theatre.

Image from Ninja Theory’s game “Hellblade”. The character and its facial and body animation was real-time mo-capped as proof of concept.

Real-time Cinematography

For this to happen we need to look closer at a small company named Ninja Theory who have are working on some amazing tools developed specifically for Unreal Engine.

A new concept of motion capture has been making the rounds at SIGGRAPH 2016(premiere meeting place for the Visual FX industry). Coined “Real-time cinematography”, and done by the Ninja’s Theory team, it is a based on the well known technological innovations of motion capture, both facial and full body. But Ninja Theory’s approach has an added, all important twist. The actor performing the mocap is actually acting out his performance in real time. Only so his facial, and body expressions can be transposed onto a digital character.

Take a look at the video below to see a glimpse of what I am talking about.

Rightly so, they coin this Real-time cinematography. A way to record and immediately play the mocap sequences, without any rendering which could sometimes take weeks. Only this time, the director and the team are able to see the result instantly. And what’s more important, make immediate adjustments, direct and create a story right before their eyes.

 

And the glue that holds it all together

So with the Void and Ninja Theory’s tech we might have the necessary tools at hand to create a new kind of experience. Something which would convince the most demanding directors working in film today to experiment with their scripts in VR as an interactive experience akin to theatre/film.

With this in mind, please stay tuned to for the next installment of this story where I want to talk about the concept of Dungeon Masters, lifted from the age old game Dungeons & Dragons.  Because, I think personally that therein lies the key to the glue that will hold all of this together and form a new kind of narrative.

I would love to hear what you think, so drop me a line. And if you want more stories like this, please subscribe to the newsletter on the front page!

Latest News

Posters for the movie Panacea are out

The posters for the upcoming movie & novel PANACEA are available below.
The movie is in pre-production with a planned release at the end of 2018. The novel will be released through the London based publishing house “The Book Folks” at the end of 2017.

read more

The trailer for the novel A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is live

The trailer for the novel “A child made to order” is available now.
The book is live on Amazon KINDLE.

LOGLINE
“When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.”

read more

UK publishing house THE BOOK FOLKS releases the novel “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER”

The London based publishing house has just released “A CHILD MADE TO ORDER” on Amazon KINDLE. “The Book Folks” specialize in genre and literary fiction and are geared mainly towards Kindle.

LOGLINE: “When an investigative journalist’s search for a missing woman turns up illegal gene therapy treatments, she has to choose if she wants to reveal the story publicly or fulfill her lifelong desire of being a mother.

read more

Storygeist blog

The emotional core of the story – part 1 of 2

Should we write only what we know? Play it safe and approach matters that we have lived through. Or should we take a wild chance, put everything on some fierce card, anything to blast our way out of the safe and comfy shell of ours. Out of our comfort zone. And what does that mean? Might it bring something deeper with it? Something which will bubble up from our subconscious, our heart(?), and attempt to enlighten our essence? To expand our inner cosmos?

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 2 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Agatha unravelled – part 1 of 2

What if the current multi-million venture to break out of the Matrix succeeded? What if we got our answers during a world upending event named The Fissure? But they turned out to be not the ones we wished for.
“Agatha Unravelled” is a short story which revolves around one man’s need to come to terms with his grief, while he attempts to unravel the secret behind his wife’s death and how it connects with the Fissure.

read more

Venture me out of the Matrix

Two of the Silicon Valley’s moguls latest project is to break us out of the Matrix, which they strongly believe exists and has the humanity enslaved. This is a perfect opportunity to look at the intersection of Technology and Spirituality and identify why these tech-billionaires have come to such a conclusion and what lies behind all of this, according to several ancient spiritual traditions.

read more

Virtual Reality and the reimagining of Story – part 5

So you grab his hand, and scramble for the sliding doors. You shoulder your way across the jeering crowd. You are almost there, the way out to freedom, but as you reach the doors, they are gone. You whip your head around and realize you’ve been pushing the wrong way. But you are 100% certain the doors were on this side. No matter. So you make a valiant effort, and crash your way onto the other side of the subway. All this time Markus begs you to hurry. He is about to capsize, and every second counts. It’s your son goddamnit, and those bastards are everywhere, standing between you and your son’s life.

read more

Films & Books

Subscribe for access to all my previous shorts

Subscribe for access to all my previous shorts

Exclusive content (teasers of up and coming feature), latest news, and more insights made available to you

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest