Imagine suiting up like an astronaut, your arms and legs enclosed in soft warmth and your head in a helmet. You’re suddenly in a ship headed for Mars, blasting through space and landing on its burnt sienna surface. Sound doesn’t travel the same way here—your steps along the rough, rocky surface are muted—but your journey is soundtracked by beautiful, symphonic crescendos, traveling with you. You can see and touch peaks, valleys, ice caps. If you get tired of exploring on foot, step into your rover, observing the landscape through the windows. Your body might not have gone to space, but for now, your senses indicate that you’re on the first expedition to the Red Planet.
From October 7th through the 9th, Miami’s III Points Music, Art, & Technology Festival will premiere the debut of Mars 2030, an immersive virtual reality production designed by FUSION. Participants will slip on a spacesuit and helmet and effectively fly to Mars, where they can explore a topographically accurate landscape. Though the experience feels magic (you’re on Mars!) it’s functionally realistic, both a simulation and an adventure. Mars 2030 is filled with details from real missions to Mars, thanks to Fusion’s Space Act Partnership with NASA. This partnership allowed FUSION to explore NASA’s research labs (including their Hybrid Reality Lab) and create an ultimately symbiotic project: as project designer and FUSION Virtual Reality Developer, Julian Reyes, explains, “We gave NASA all of our information so they could convert it and use it as a training simulation for their astronauts.”
Sound is one of Mars 2030’s most important components. Eight-time Grammy Award winner Julio Reyes has created Hope, an original score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The sounds of Mars 2030 will be overlaid upon these soundscapes. “All the audio and music is ambisonic and overlaid on top,” says Julian. “You’re walking on Mars, but you feel as if you’re at the center of the orchestra.” The music is gaze-dependent, as interactive as the rest of the experience: “It depends on where you’re looking. In one scene, if you’re looking at your other crew members, we’ve created a piece that aligns with the feeling of camaraderie, of being part of four people about to spend a year on Mars. But if you look outside, the music conveys a sense of fear and excitement about whether or not you’ll make it.”
Spoiler alert: you make it. In Planet, Stars, and Space, a 1962 science book by Joseph Miles Chamberlain and Thomas D. Nicholson, the section on Mars reads: “Since the dawn of civilization, people on earth have looked into the night sky and have speculated about the strange reddish-hued world that occasionally reaches such brightness that it outshines all the stars.” In Gustav Holst’s suite, The Planets, the Mars movement is majestic, like the soundtrack to a victorious battle. Mars 2030 indulges that sense of fantastical, adventurous speculation, and educationally, too. “We’re aiming to be very informative,” says Julian. “It partially comes down to consolidating all of NASA’s research into an experience that’s fun.”
“We are thrilled to showcase FUSION’s Mars 2030 at III Points, enabling people to interact with this innovative experience at a festival that has been breaking boundaries since its inception,” says Daniel Eilemberg, Co-President and Chief Content Officer for FUSION. “We have been eager to find a way to work with the III Points team since our launch nearly three years ago, and what better way to collaborate than transporting audiences to another planet?”
III Points Festival is from October 7th-9th in Miami, FL. Go to iiipoints.com for full details on the festival, including its music lineup, and to purchase a ticket. Follow III Points on social media @iiipoints.