Online video has given us the opportunity to digest news and world events like never before. Mobile video footage has allowed us to experience the 2009 Iranian Election protests, natural disasters like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya. But a new project called Condition ONE is working to reinvent the way we view war with a new immersive virtual reality experience that brings us directly to the front lines in Libya.
The project, headed up by Danfung Dennis (director of the 2011 Sundance War Documentary Hell And Back Again) aims to create an environment that lets viewers experience news events more fully – to experience war as if they were actually there.
According to DSLR News Shooter, “Danfung hasn’t disclosed too much detail about the actual system used other than to say it is based on a Canon video-capable DSLR which can capture the entire human field of view as a distorted circular image. The image is subsequently projected onto the inside of a dome for immersive viewing. The same image can also be displayed on an iPad app which allows the user to pan around the video image as it plays.”
The video below provides an example of what the project looks like on the iPad and also shows some of the amazing footage shot by photojournalist Patrick Chauvel in the Libyan desert near Ras Lanouf.
According to DSLR News Shooter, Danfung Dennis had this to say about the project:
“Visual imagery can be a powerful medium for truth. The images of napalmed girls screaming by Nick Ut, the street execution of a Vietcong prisoner by Eddie Adams, the shell-shocked soldier by Don McCullin – these iconic images have burned into our collective consciousness as reminders of war’s consequences.
“But, this visual language is dying. The traditional outlets are collapsing. In the midst of this upheaval, we must invent a new language. Condition ONE combines the power of the still image and storytelling, the emotional engagement of tactile experiences, and the compelling nature of being an active participant in an effort to pioneer a new language that is so immersive, that it will shake viewers out of their numbness to traditional media and provide them a powerful emotional experience. Instead of opening a window to glimpse another world, we are attempting to bring the viewer into that world.”
Danfung hopes that through Condition ONE he can help to “shake people from their indifference to war, and to bridge the disconnect between the realities on the ground and the public consciousness at home.”
I agree that many of us are have grown indifferent to war and to the video footage of hardship, violence, disaster, terror and pain that we see on the news and on YouTube. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we have become desensitized to violence and disaster through movies and television shows, or that we just can’t comprehend that the people in those clips are real human being like us when we watch them on our little screens. Maybe Condition ONE can help us to comprehend the reality of war and to start taking action. What do you think?