World’s oldest rainforest brought to life in groundbreaking VR experience

This award-winning immersive experience, developed by Ben Joseph Andrews and Emma Roberts, offers a unique journey into the 180-million-year-old Daintree rainforest.

The South Australian Museum is set to host a groundbreaking virtual reality experience, “GONDWANA VR: The Exhibition,” starting this December, leading up to the 2024 Adelaide Festival.

This award-winning immersive experience, developed by Ben Joseph Andrews and Emma Roberts, offers a unique journey into the 180-million-year-old Daintree rainforest.

Recently showcased at prestigious international film festivals like SXSW and Sundance, GONDWANA VR will offer museum visitors a multi-sensory journey through one of Australia’s most treasured ecosystems. The Daintree rainforest, occupying only 0.1% of Australia’s landmass, is a biodiversity hotspot, teeming with unique flora and fauna.

GONDWANA VR is an open-play environment accessible through VR headsets, allowing users to interact digitally with ancient trees, rugged mountains, and serene beaches, all while observing the rich birdlife.

The experience is not confined to the digital realm; the physical exhibition space will echo the VR world with projections, lighting, and cinematic sound, creating a tranquil, multi-sensory experience.

The creators, Andrews and Roberts, inspired by their extensive on-ground research in the Daintree, aim to reconnect audiences with the wild and ancient aspects of nature.

“To be entangled within the dynamic flux of the Daintree’s living, breathing nature is to put the human perspective into proportionate scale,” Ben and Emma said. “In the rainforest, we understood how small we really are: organisms floating inside the lungs of something infinitely larger. Time collapses in on itself, its cycles moving a few rings wider than normal.

“This is something we wanted to capture and communicate with this experience, especially for those who might not have the chance to visit the Wet Tropics for themselves.”

Wales Millennium Centre 17th July 2023

With each cycle showing different possible futures for the forest informed by climate projections up to the year 2090, GONDWANA VR draws the user into a broader narrative that stirs below: the forest is deteriorating, and whether it survives or thrives hinges on how we interact with it.

Do we ignore the effects of global heating on this haven of biodiversity, and let it bleach and wither? Or do we recognize the huge impacts our actions can have on our most irreplaceable ecological treasures?

In a special feature for the Adelaide Festival 2023, the Museum will present a 48-hour cycle of GONDWANA VR, offering an extended experience of Andrews and Roberts’ vision, complemented by a weekend of public programming.

Arts Minister Andrea Michaels said GONDWANA VR: The Exhibition promises to be an exciting event for South Australian audiences and visitors alike.

“South Australians love their Museum, and after a blockbuster year, this latest exhibition offers a new and engaging mix of art, innovation, and discovery in the heart of Adelaide’s cultural precinct. I look forward to slipping on a VR headset and experiencing what is sure to be a must-see attraction this summer.”

GONDWANA VR: The Exhibition
: South Australian Museum
When: 9 December 2023 to 17 March 2024, open daily from 10 am to 5 pm

General admission:
VR headset and exhibition: $15 online presale, $17 door Exhibition: $5 online presale, $7 door

Museum Members:
VR headset and exhibition: $10 Exhibition: FREE

Concession/Student/Child 5-12 years:
VR headset and exhibition: $13 online presale, $15 door Exhibition only: $3 online presale, $5 door

Children under 5 free (exhibition only – VR headsets suitable for ages 5+)

For more information, and to book, click here.

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