Sundance: Exploring A Mixed Reality Graveyard Filled With Holographic Ghosts In Solastalgia

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HoloLens technology brings this otherworldly meditative experience to life.

Developed by French studio Providences, Solastalgia is a spine-chilling mixed reality piece that takes a handful of users through a mixed reality graveyard filled with the ghostly memories of a long-forgotten human community spanning multiple generations. Sufficeth to say, it was one of the creepiest offerings at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier showcase.

It’s a difficult project to describe, so I’ll let the developers explain it in their own words:

Image courtesy of Sundance Institute

“You are one of five cosmonauts visiting a mysterious future, exploring the surface of a depopulated planet in ruin, colonized by lichens and a strange cloud of data filling the land with human ghosts. What does this curious landscape tell us about our lives? Projecting into the future of the Anthropocene epoch, Solastalgia is a meditation on today’s tensions between the potentially redemptive power of technology and the scientific forecast of a compromised future.”

Image courtesy of Sundance Institute

Donning a pair of Microsoft HoloLens 2 mixed reality headsets, we entered the location-based set built directly on the show floor of New Frontier Central. Inside was an almost Mars-like environment filled with the decaying remains of a long-forgotten community. Broken walls and various rubble were littered throughout the environment. At the center was a mysterious pedestal made of rocks and sand. At this point, an unknown voice began to speak and we began to see small balls of light appear throughout the environment.

Each of these balls of light, when approached, activated a different memory which was accompanied by a holographic image of the person and a short audio bite. Under a mixed reality tree, I found a couple making love; near the remains of a broken wall, I discovered what appeared to be an injured soldier. Each had their own message relating to humanity and our existential fear of a changing world.

Gabríela Friðriksdóttir appears in Solastalgia by Antoine Viviani and Pierre-Alain Giraud / Image courtesy of Sundance Institute

It’s was an odd, but strangely moving experience; one this was just the 10-minute version. The full experience actually lasts closer to 30 minutes and is designed to host 12 people at one time.

Solastalgia is currently available to festival-goers at New Frontier Central. For more information on the project visit here.

Feature Image Credit: Sundance Institute

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