Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lucid Realities @ the Phi Centre

Until December 16, the Phi Centre in Old Montreal presents Lucid Realities, twelve different virtual reality experiences.
"Dreams, memories, and reflections.... The third instalment of the Sensory Stories series, Lucid Realities, invites visitors to navigate previously unknowable worlds. Step inside dreams, nightmares, fantasies, and recollections such as walking in space, inhabiting another person's body, flying like a bird, or exploring secret locations. Being transported to past, current, and imagined realities using immersive technologies, and being exposed to people and situations that are typically inaccessible to us, elicits more visceral and emotional reactions." 
It is recommended that visitors allow at least two hours for their visit. We had "had enough" after two hours, even though I tasted only eight of the twelve activities on offer. A small portion of our time was spent waiting for an activity to become available.

Dear Angelica

Perhaps my favourite experience was Dear Angelica, "a journey through the magical and dreamlike ways we remember our loved ones." Produced by Emmy-award-winning Oculus Story Studio, this 14-minute "movie" uses brush-like animation to 3-D effect, allowing the viewer to float through an infinity of space, following the thoughts of a young girl as she sifts through memories of her mother. The portrayal of the mother is based on actress Geena Davis; there is a reference to her role in Thelma and Louise that you are not likely to miss.

Blind Vaysha

Another of my favourites was the 7-minute Blind Vaysha, from the National Film Board of Canada. This story is based on a Russian folk tale of a young girl who can see the past through her left eye, and the future through her right eye, but who is otherwise blind. Likewise, viewers wearing a virtual reality headset can shift between past and future by alternately closing an eye.

If you have teens or young adults visiting the city, I would highly recommend Lucid Realities as an exciting diversion from touring the historical sites of Old Montreal. Going earlier in the day is advised to avoid the crowds. (Hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am - 6 pm.)

Tickets for adults are $25, for students and seniors $20. Children under 12 are admitted free, but many of the activities are not available to those under 13, even when accompanied by an adult.

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