Next week at the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival in Plymouth, Devon, England, filmmaker Alexis Kirke will screen a new film, “Many Worlds,” that will immerse the audience in its plot by using the physical reactions of viewers to affect the story’s progress. Specifically, four audience members will volunteer to have sensors attached to them that will monitor heart rate, brain waves, perspiration level, and muscle tension, and the data received from those sensors will determine how the movie plays out.
What’s the Big Idea?
It’s not the first time audience members have influenced a film’s plot, and tech writer Bill Thompson thinks Kirke’s experiment poses some interesting questions about audience attention: “[W]ill you, the viewer ‘drop out’ of the film narrative because it’s detecting you; and will the story telling be seamless enough for it to feel more like you’re playing a game which takes you in a direction you sort of want to go in?” For his part, Kirke believes that incorporating sensors into test screenings could save directors time as they “relinquish control to the audience’s collective emotional state.”
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