The Guardian has launched its first virtual reality (VR) piece 6×9 – an virtual experience of solitary confinement which places viewers in an interactive, virtual segregation cell.
The film aims to highlight the psychological deterioration and sensory deprivation that can be the effects of long term solitary confinement for many of the people who have experienced it first hand around the world – an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 of them in the United States alone.
Created in collaboration with content creation studio The Mill, 6×9 is a virtual cell built in CGI. The cell is a composite and uses references from a range of prisons throughout the US. 6×9 is one of the few VR documentaries that employs user interactivity and stories are triggered by the user through the experience. When ‘inside’ the cell the viewer can interact with objects, learning what they can, and more importantly, what they can’t do in solitary confinement.
Throughout 6×9 the viewer will hear audio from interviews with seven former inmates who were in solitary confinement for between one and eight years in California and New York. Throughout the experience they talk to viewers about what they can expect during the film.
The project team also worked closely with academic psychologists Dr Terry Kupers and Dr Craig Haney who have studied the effects of solitary confinement for decades. Interviewed for 6×9, they explain the physiological effects the viewer experiences – from figures appearing in peripheral vision to the sensation of floating.
Check out the 360 YouTube experience below.
Lead image via Ed Thomas for The Guardian.