Pax Prime 2014: SoundSelf
The Oculus Rift game that wasn’t. SoundSelf is an interactive experience that begins and ends with you on the floor, “ohming” to yourself in your happy place. Which is, apparently, a geometric kaleidoscope of floating lines. The setup for SoundSelf began, at PAX, within a small tent with comfortable carpeting, on which you sit while the exhibitor offers you tea. You chit-chat while waiting for your turn to come up, then it’s time to suit up and get down. A throat-microphone, headphones, and the aforementioned Oculus wrap your head in another world while you lie flat on your back. The game instructs to you chant in one long breath, filling a meter. Do this twice, and you’re off to la-la land. Only, there was no instruction to keep chanting, which I learned after the fact was kind of important. The soundscape is procedurally generated using your voice and chanting as the seed, and it does react to different sounds and pitches as you continue, including flashing lights at you if you’ve fallen asleep.
I’m unsure of the target audience for SoundSelf, but as an art piece it was worth the experience just to have an experience. I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed that the Oculus was used only as a very close TV, and I can’t say I feel compelled to try SoundSelf again, but those into lucid dreaming or deep meditation yoga should definitely try it out.