There is a multitude of scientific studies on how complex memory is. How audio, smell, even taste, can take you back somewhere. That is to say, sensory immersion can help stir recollections and feelings of that past. What better way to immerse yourself and stir up emotions than with an immersive medium like virtual reality?

Draw Me Close is a project from Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill. Tannahill worked with illustrator Teva Harrison and developer All Seeing Eye, through a partnership with Canada’s National Film Board and the UK’s National Theatre. It is about Jordan’s relationship with his mother, who was diagnosed with stage-four cancer two years ago. It debuted last week at the Tribeca Film Festival. This singular virtual reality experience may be one of the most immersive so far.

“I knew nothing about the form. As I became more familiar with it, several exciting affordances emerged: Its immersive and interactive capabilities. The ability to ‘enter’ an animation and move about within it. The way VR seems to exist within a liminal space between dreaming and waking,” Tannahill told Upload.

Stepping Back Into Childhood

Draw Me Close begins by taking off your shoes. You are stand on a path of outdoor tiles, like for a garden walkway, with plants beside you. You feel the stone beneath your socks. You are standing in a five-foot square room, surrounded by beige curtains. The attendant helps you put on your Vive and a pair of fingerless gloves that place Vive Trackers on the back of your hands. Then you are in an empty space of white, except for a simple outline of your tracked hands.

Black lines begins to draw the outlines of objects, creating a black and white world like a drawing made with a black Sharpie marker. The outside of a surburban home begins to take shape, you standing on the path to the front door. This art is the work of artist Teva Harrison, who has written and drawn about her own experiences with cancer in the book, In-Between Days.

“VR has a lot of possibility, in terms of different ways of communicating straight to the heart of the viewer, in a way that is difficult to without an immersive experience,” said Harrison. “The house is Jordan’s childhood home. He sent me streetview pictures to make sure I lined it up with the specificity of his memories. And that’s where the commonality of human condition is found, the really specific memory.”

Read the full article at Upload VR.