Notes on Blindness, a virtual reality journey into the world of blindness

Notes on Blindness - by ARTE / arte

To promote the feature film Notes on Blindness, Franco-German TV network Arte has released an impressive virtual reality (VR) experience called Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness. The VR experience, available in French, German and English, is based on the cognitive and emotional experience of John Hull, who suffered through decades of gradual deterioration until he went completely blind at the age of 48.

Hull had recorded his experiences in an audio journal, which documents his anxieties, achievements and his developments throughout the first three years of complete blindness. The immersive VR project is based on these audio recordings and takes users on a sensory and psychological journey to the world of blindness.

The six-part VR experience takes users into different scenes which present certain memories and special moments John had experienced and recorded in his audio diary. His experiences are not presented with any real pictures, but rather as 3D animated figures of blue light. In combination with binaural audio, this creates an unique and overwhelming experience of a world without sight.

The Notes on Blindness VR app was introduced alongside the feature film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The app was created and produced by Arte France, Ex Nihilo, AudioGaming and Archer's Mark as co-producer. It has been available on the Oculus Store for Samsung Gear VR since 30 June, and is available for iOS and Android since 12 October.

The feature film is based on the award-winning short film of the same name that documents John Hull's experiences over the past 30 years. He and his wife had been interviewed while reflecting on their past. The documentary intermingles different elements of storytelling and uses original audio recordings and cinematic interpretations to create a poetic and unique story of Hull's path.

Matthias Puschmann is the managing director and co-founder of Vast Media, a media research and consulting company based in Berlin that provides international television industry leaders with qualitative competitive market analysis of digital entertainment and content marketing.

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