Notes on Blindness: an experience of darkness
A documentary film accompanied by a virtual reality experience to understand the world of the blind : Notes on blindness is a global and effective proposal offered by Arte Creative and scheduled for release on October 12, 2016. History: in the summer of 1981, John Hull, a writer and professor of theology at the University of Birmingham (Great Britain), becomes blind and keeps a kind of “diary” via audio recordings. Initially refusing this upheaval, he gradually decides to accept it. “I had to confront it”, he says, “because if I did not understand it (editor’s note : blindness), it would be right for me”. The result proposed by the Franco-British production team is superb : a poetic and sensory journey, to the sound of Lambert Wilson’s voice, into a world beyond vision.
Immersion in blindness
John Hull died before the film was finished. The academic had an autoimmune syndrome, explains his wife to Sciences et Avenir. Affected by a cataract that made him lose his sight for the first time at the age of 15, he underwent an operation and then a series of retinal detachments. “It took the form of a black record that gradually grew,” John Hull recalls in his recordings. “We do not want to believe it, we continue to hope”. The images fade, and their disappearance alters the memories… so how to adapt to this new world where sight is no longer present? How can film and technology be used to invent a form adapted to this story ? The team answered this question brilliantly. Like the documentary by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, the virtual reality experience is centered on emotion and empathy. Thanks to 3D animation and binaural spatialized sound, it appeals to all our senses for this unprecedented journey. “At first, it was a sound exploration and then we wanted to add an extra dimension,” says Amaury La Burthe, president of the start-up Audiogaming, specialized in video games. Indeed, the gameplay mechanics (sight activation) allow a total immersion in the experience of blindness.
Virtual reality immersion in the world of blindness. © Arte Creative
Moreover, since the character does not move directly, there is very little motion sickness*.
*There motion sickness (motion sickness) is also present in virtual reality. It occurs when there is a conflict between what your eyes see (here, movement) and what your inner ear sees (here, stillness). Faced with the mismatch between information from the eyes and that of the vestibular system, the brain fails to update your current status and the confusion leads to symptoms of motion sickness, such as nausea and vomiting.
Practical information :
October 12, 2016 at 10: 30 pm on Arte and Artecreative
* Documentary by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, told by Lambert Wilson. Coproduction Arte France, Agat Films et Cie, Archer’s Mark, 104 Films, Fee Fie Foe Films (2016, 1h25 min).
* VR Experience available for Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headsets and On AppStore and GooglePlay. Directed by: Arnaud Colinart, Amaury La Burthe, Peter Middleton and James Spinney. Said by Lambert Wilson. Co-production: Arte France, Ex Nihilo, Archer’s Mark. Executive production: Audiogaming (2016, 6 chapters of 3-4 min)