British-born artist Sean Rogg's influential, immersive art series The Waldorf Project has been blowing people's minds for more than six years. But now, Rogg is taking FUTURO, a reality-bending exhibition that pulls audiences into the piece in radical and innovative ways, to an even bigger stage—an entire, thousands-big festival.
At this month's Wonderfruit festival, in the outskirts of Pattaya, Thailand, Rogg's The Waldorf Project: FUTURO - X, will pull at least 5,000 festival goers into a "grand experiment" that slowly reveals itself throughout the entire festival, lasting for days until the grand finale on Wonderfruit's final night where everyone becomes a part of one massive, synchronized organism before the project's final moments.
This project's previous iteration, Chapter 3/FUTURO, ran for 27 sold-out performances and racked up more than a few rave reviews for its immersive, multi-sensory experience. That performance was built, in part, around a Japanese concept (Amae) in which participants were supposed to completely surrender themselves to the event's performers, knowing full well that they were safe the entire time.
A lot of this initial version fo FUTURO was built around food, or at least "consumable matter." Much of FUTURO - X is still a mystery, but, from what Rogg told me, it's going to be bigger, and more involved, than anything he's done before.
"FUTURO - X will go so far beyond what we even thought was possible," Rogg told VICE. "It will change the face of the art world forever."
It's an outrageously ambitious experiment that took Rogg six months to design, the entire festival grounds to pull off, and years of research and learning to fully create. In FUTURO - X, Rogg is building atop a foundation of what he learned at smaller performances in the United Kingdom, where the audience sizes averaged 40. To make this significantly larger vision a reality, Rogg was given full reign over Wonderfruit, down to the actual physical layout of the festival grounds.
"The Waldorf Project has found the perfect partner in Wonderfruit, whose pioneering ethos exists to make a positive difference through the betterment of mankind and were brave enough to undertake this experiment with us," Rogg told VICE.
His completed work is a mixture of the artistic and the scientific. Rogg is using machine learning, AI, psychological research, and performance art to connect with thousands of people at once through feelings of empathy. The entire thing will unveil itself over the course of four days through the audience's interactions with architecture, set pieces, and bespoke tech constructed specifically for this event.
Then it all culminates in a massive finale that will involve 250 dancers, some of them from the UK team, others brought in from the Bangkok Dance Academy, to engage with, and pull in festival goers.
It's going to be the largest artistic experiment of its kind in the world, and Rogg, for his part, is feeling the emotional weight that comes with standing on the precipitous of what could potentially be a life-altering event.
"I feel like the last six months was like training to be an astronaut," he said. "Tomorrow is launch day. Excitement, fear, and a strange calmness. But most importantly overwhelmed by the feeling of exploring the unknown."
This article was written as part of a paid partnership between VICE and Wonderfruit. To buy your tickets for this year's fest, click here. To learn about this year's fest, read this story here, and to figure out how to plan for your trip, check out our handy guide from last year's coverage.