Emma Roberts and Ben Andrews are a producer/director team working in location-based virtual reality.
The work of Emma Roberts and Ben Andrews exists in the intersection between physical and virtual space, exploring how multi-sensory immersive storytelling can enable experiences that are shared, open-ended and co-created.
In 2016, the team delivered two uniquely experiential VR installations for the VCA and City of Melbourne. They expanded this approach further in 2017 with STARLESS, a live-scored immersive near-death experience for Melbourne Music Week. Currently in development is PETRICHOR, a multi-sensory impact documentary giving audiences an embodied understanding of the destructive yet unseen effects of climate change.
Inspired by the transformative possibilities of awe, we’ll be undertaking a dedicated exploration into multi-sensory VR as a creative vehicle reconnecting us to the natural world.
Support from the Creator’s Fund will allow us to undertake a period of intensive creative research on location in Wet Tropics of Far North Queensland, building a stronger base from which to conceptualise, design and understand VR’s potential to generate deeply embodied experiences of awe.
What does being awarded a Creators Fund grant mean to you?
It’s difficult to quantify the significance of the Creators Fund to us, as it still feels completely surreal. For the past three years, we’ve been developing large-scale multi-sensory VR installations hand-to-mouth, between other jobs and commitments, and with a reckless abandon to all other aspects of our humanity. Support from the CF removes a lot of the pressures that limit our artistic pursuits, freeing us to deep dive into the creative research that will strengthen our work, from the foundations up. It presents us with our first real glimmer that a career in the creative arts may indeed be a sustainable pursuit.
How important is 'time' to you, as an artist/creative professional?
Between part-time jobs and full-on projects, constantly scrabbling for time means we’re often forced to prioritise the necessary at the expense of being truly creative. Having time available to dedicate to our practice means we can get lost down the little meandering pathways that get bypassed when you’re barrelling towards project completion at 100kph; we can reclaim the weird, the experimental aspects of our work that make it so exciting to us. It gives us the luxury to shift creativity into the world of the necessary, where it belongs.
We’re also really looking forward to spending time enhancing our technical knowledge base and skill set, so that we can better build, test and communicate the worlds we want to create.
What are you most looking forward to over the months ahead?
The mysterious and unexpected. Also, systemically breaking all things VR related and finding new, aberrant ways to put them back together again.
Where would like to see yourself at the end of this process? How do you anticipate your career will develop as a result?
After 3 months immersed in and around the Wet Tropics, who knows which version of ourselves we will have become? We expect to be profoundly shifted by our experience working, reflecting, responding to a landscape of unparalleled natural significance and vulnerability.
Aside from emerging with a bagful of little idea seeds -- some nascent, others germinating -- we want to treat this period as a base from which to build a conceptual toolkit and technical knowledge that will inform our work going forward. We want to dramatically expand our capacity to prototype and pre-visualise, increasing our efficiency and enabling a more collaborative, bottom-up approach to our creative process.