"The Infinite" Blasts Off

by Guy Frum

NASA-powered “The Infinite” Blasts Off in Canada

Unless your net worth is comparable to that of Sir Richard Branson (US$4.5 billion) or Jeff Bezos (US$191 billion), you’re probably not going out of the Earth’s orbit anytime soon. Fortunately, a new immersive experience is giving the rest of us a chance to take it all in as well.A new virtual reality (VR) experience has debuted in Montreal, Canada, that spans a staggering 25,000 square feet and showcases 360-degree footage shot from aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the marvel of aeronautics that has been in orbit around the planet for nearly 23 years and circles the earth once every 93 minutes at a speed of 17,100 miles per hour.

Credit: William Arcand (Productions L’Éloi)

Produced by Felix and Paul Studios 

Produced by Felix and Paul Studios in conjunction with TIME magazine, ‘The Infinite’ is a fully immersive VR experience that takes footage from the Emmy-nominated VR film, “Space Explorers: The ISS Experience”. The massive size of the experience - approximately the size of 15 single-family houses, is broken into seven zones with the purpose of getting everyday people excited about the future possibilities of space travel and space exploration. Using VR technology, lights, sounds, and darkness, the zones build on one another to create the idea of a journey through space and time. Those seven zones include:

Zone #1: Stars are Coming Out: This is the entry point of the experience and one of the only places you’ll consciously be aware of other attendees around you. There are lights and sounds that indicate that you’re going on a journey, as if something is happening just out of view. The lights convalesce to reveal a passageway that is open to all for exploration.

Zone #2: Onboarding: Put on your VR headset and feel the pulse as you ascend to the ISS.

Zone #3: Exploring the ISS: Step inside the massive ISS and explore its structures. There are two modules - one Russian, one American, with all the surrounding life support, power controls, communications, science labs, crew quarters, and computers.

Zone #4: The Overview Effect: See the Earth the way that real astronauts do from the ISS. See the curve of the earth as you go racing by at 17,000 miles per hour and see the rotation of familiar landmarks, continents, and more.

Zone #5: Ryoji Ikeda: Also known as the Universe within the Universe, this black square room will give you the feeling of weightlessness and perhaps even a bit of vertigo as you vanish into a pitch-black environment that symbolizes the depth and breadth of infinite space.

Zone #6: The Wormhole: Known as an infinity room, this corridor surrounds you with video and sound to enact what it would be like to return to Earth from deep space via a wormhole.

Zone #7: The Origins: The VR experience is explored further with the inclusion of olfactory effects. This room is shaped like a squat pyramid and used to slowly “wake up’ your senses as you return to the terrestrial existence.

The Infinite is currently showing at the Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal through November 7, 2021.