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Tripping on virtual reality: The artists trying to replicate psychedelic experiences in VR

• https://newatlas.com, By Rich Haridy

Instead, I slipped on a VR headset and saw some pretty pictures swirl around me for about 12 minutes.

The VR experience is called Ayahuasca (Kosmik Journey), and it was created by Jan Kounen, a French filmmaker who has been fascinated by this hallucinogenic shamanic experience for over 15 years. Kounen first attempted a cinematic depiction of an ayahuasca experience in his 2004 western Renegade (aka Blueberry). Since then he has penned several books on the subject, and directed a documentary about shamanism.

It is perhaps unsurprising that Kounen continued his artistic quest in psychedelic depictions by creating an ayahuasca VR experience. But, however visually accurate the VR experience is purported to be, it feels like a fundamentally superficial exploit, turning a profoundly sublime and life-changing psychedelic experience into an empty spectacle of visual effects that quickly becomes remarkably dull.

"Taking ayahuasca is not for everyone," Kounen recently said in an interview with ArtsHub about his VR experience, "it's a strong experience that will be good for some and too much for others. So this is a safe way to see how the plant works. Of course, it's not the real thing – that is much stronger and you can't escape by taking off the helmet!"


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