THE FRIEND VR (in progress)
John Sanborn | Creative Director
David Lawrence | VR Director
Nathalie Mathe | Consulting Producer
Dan Rutter | Conceptual Development
Steve Horwath | Modeler and Unity Developer
The Friend VR invites audiences to explore The Temple of New Thought, a phantasmagorical 3D VR environment where they’ll encounter video projections of the seven sermons delivered by The Friend, profiles and spoken word philosophies of eight Saints of New Thought; and animations of each Saint’s disturbing set of relics. The Temple of New Thought is a mashup of an old-fashioned circus, hot mess drag show with the reverence of traditional devotional spaces. The VR experience is intentionally unbalanced and surreal and as different from physical reality as possible - because this is the world of The Friend, and he demands it be so.
The underlying goal of The Friend VR is similar to the work that inspired it - to confront our obsession with following leaders who promise solutions to questions we KNOW cannot be answered, and understand how and why American Messiahs like The Friend thrive. The Friend VR extends this concept by rewarding exploration and confrontation as the viewer unearths clues, backstory and personal details about the human portraying a “small g” god, and with enough play, they are rewarded with an understanding not available in the physical version of The Friend. Gifts and rewards in the form of digital art and NFTs can be secured, traded and exchanged - after all, The Friend loves cash.
“Easter Eggs” of textual and image displays of New Thought philosophy, historical “facts” and suggestions of the influence of New Thought in popular culture will be hidden throughout the Temple to be found. Visitors are given an opportunity to reflect on each Saint’s philosophy and make a textual offering of how it relates to their own personal experience, and receive a “gift” of a NFT image in response. Devotees are also invited to record and submit video testimonials describing how the teachings of The Friend have changed their lives - to be displayed in a Wall of Piety - a gigantic collage of testifying souls.
The experience is un-timed and interactive as engagement and playback is determined by the audience’s actions. Merchandise promoting The Friend and his teachings, to show support for the movement of New Thought, will be available for sale in a virtual gift shop. The Friend is performed by John Cameron Mitchell, who will add additional voice over material to the experience, enhancing the already recorded content.