Global Oneness Project’s first virtual reality film will premiere at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas on Tuesday 13th March. Sanctuaries of Silence, created by the GOP team, offers an immersive listening journey into Olympic National Park – one of the quietest places in North America.
When we think about pollution, usually we just think about carbon dioxide and the damage our cars are doing to the environment and our own health. But sound pollution is becoming an exponential problem, with many predicting that true silence won’t be achievable in the near future.
Sanctuaries of Silence looks at the problem of sound pollution and as viewers don their VR headsets, they’re taken on a journey with acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton as he searches for a place that isn’t impacted by noise pollution.
"Our hope with Sanctuaries of Silence is that students come away with a new perspective towards sound and the power of silence", explains Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director of Global Oneness Project. "When we first heard of Gordon Hempton and his work, we were instantly intrigued with the idea of creating a virtual reality experience to explore this notion of silence. The simple act of listening to the natural world can profoundly impact our relationship to place and ourselves by rooting us in a presence that we no longer take for granted."
It's an undeniably fascinating concept for a film. But why virtual reality? Cleary explained, "We wanted to offer an opportunity for viewers to be completely present in the landscape of the Hoh rainforest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States. As visual as the medium of virtual reality is, with its 360 degree cinematic canvas, our approach with this film was driven more by sound than images. How could we offer the viewer a chance to experience the Hoh rainforest through Hempton’s way of listening, giving the sounds their own voice? This question became our motivation."
The GOP team produced the film as a New York Times Op-Doc and it has already won Best Sound Experience from SIMA, the Social Impact Media Awards! Following SXSW, Sanctuaries of Silence will have it’s online premiere on New York Times Op-Docs March 27th, as both a 360 video and full VR film in the New York Times VR App.
Virtual reality is exciting not just because it's a fresh take on film, but because it has the potential to transform what happens in the classroom. As Cleary told us, "Virtual reality can provide students with ways to have a complete immersive experience in real world environments. VR is a powerful experiential learning tool which is hands on and can reach all types of learners."
Find out how you can experience the virtual reality film at SXSW or head to Global Oneness Project's project page where you can discover their beautiful classroom-ready documentaries, articles and photo-essays to brighten up your lessons this week!