The Virtual Journey to Enlightenment

Friday, November 21, 2008 - 1:10 pm

The Virtual Journey to Enlightenment

Here’s a preview of video artist Bill Viola‘s in-progress video game “The Night Journey.” Viola, who has been described as “a Rembrandt for the video age,” has built a career on making video art that’s contemplative, metaphysical, and sometimes spiritual — and this “game” seems to be no exception. From its description on the USC Interactive Media Web site:

Narrative inspiration for this project includes the lives and writings of great historical figures including: Rumi, the 13th century Islamic poet and mystic; Ryokan, the 18th century Zen Buddhist poet, Shankara; the 8th century Hindu mystic and commentator on the Upanishads; and St. Anthony, the 3rd century Christian desert father.

It’s an interesting project, and while it does have some game-like elements like goals and levels, his professed intention is to “explore the universal story of an individual mystic’s journey towards enlightenment.” His video work (which you can see some examples of here and here, as well on his Web site) has often been presented in an immersive, experiential environment. So maybe an interactive experience is a logical next step.
I do wonder, though, how much can this sort of technology evoke a deep metaphysical and/or spiritual experience? Can one really explore spirituality with a joystick?
Coming soon: Speaking of Faith: The Game. (Kidding, of course. I think.)

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