Rectangles of Light


By Matt Thompson


Whether or not VR specifically proliferates into every household, I am completely convinced that IMMERSION on some level will be in all of our futures. 


The concept of “screens” as our primary platform to interact with technology will evolve into immersive, interactive technology. The way we interact with tech, and the way tech interacts with us will be circular, it will surround us, integrate into our life, into us, and be more than mere rectangles of light.


As this paradigm shifts, audiences will expect to be absorbed in, and absorbed by, stories in the same manner — not in rectangles in front of us, but in spheres orbiting us. So, as a director, I’m interested in educating myself on the proper storytelling methods, the visual grammar and the artistic craft of 360-degree storytelling. Everything changes when your canvas becomes all visible space. The silver and small screens are certainly not going away, but something else is definitely coming, and it’s coming at a great time.


Content is everywhere. Everything is video. Everything is story, so nothing feels like story. With immersive entertainment like Virtual Reality we can step into the shoes of the oppressed, of the subjugated, of the weak, of the powerful, of Mother Earth and of Father Sky, of life, of death. We can become that which we don’t understand, and we will finally be able to understand, and finally be able to love.


Now we have something where people can be mindful in story. We can be transported, lifted from our inundated lives, and placed into a pure form of existence, perhaps purer than the often messy, notification-driven existence that has become normal life. And while we’re there – stay with me on this – we may return changed for the better. It sounds enigmatic – to use technology to wake people from the mindlessness of technology – because, yes, it is. But it’s possible. There’s a balance that exists, a duality, that I, and so many others are working to discover.


With immerse mediums like Virtual Reality, we have the ability to create a sense of perspective for change. We can create a sense of “real” for people whose lives almost feel “un-real,” constantly stuffed in the frenetic, information over-dosing pace of life. There’s a way for people to “see it different” – the mission statement of my VR company, MTI. In our first original narrative VR experience we created two years ago, AFTER, the viewer steps into the first-person point-of-view of a specific character who dies, and goes on to experience the first five-minutes of the afterlife. Each episode is inspired by a different spiritual or cultural afterlife belief from around the world, bringing to life some of the oldest and most influential stories of humankind.


With AFTER, our intention was to allow audiences to feel something intimate and emotional, explore an event they couldn’t normally experience in day-to-day life, and create something that cinema or other existing platforms couldn’t quite cater to, something that felt natural and organic, yet foreign, just like this new technology. We sought to cultivate an intimate space within people to explore death, while simultaneously build empathy between people by creating a global experience where viewers could step within the spiritual beliefs of folks from all over the world.


Just as AFTER gives us the opportunity to become intimate with death, so too does it allow us to become more intimate with life. When the headset comes off, for a brief moment, we can take a breath, take a pause, take a moment to relish all that surrounds us in this beautiful blue world. To experience is to learn, is to grow, is to cherish.


There is so much to love in this world, and if artists can create experiences to help admire the rapture of life when the “headset” comes off, I think we have witnessed story’s mightiest power. The most enchanting form of mankind’s artistic abilities. True alchemy. Immersion does not need to be another medium of content for the sake of content, it has all the potential to be truly transformational. There’s a clean slate now. It begins with intention. It ends with faith in humanity, and love for each other.


Virtual reality can improve our reality.




Matt's passion for this article led him to writing 2,000 words.

If you're interested, his elongated version is available for read here.