One of music’s strangest acts invades Sundance with an even stranger AR experience.
It’s fitting that YouTube darling Poppy is at the center of an interactive AR piece that ends with you questioning your own reality. It’s her thing and A Jester’s Tale from RYOT is no exception, presenting a mix of Magic Leap technology and live performance that shows how easily the lines can blur between our physical and digital worlds.
“To me, Poppy represents a new kind of cultural critique, one that plays with ideas of fame and manufactured perfection in ways that are unsettling yet enjoyable,” Director Asad J. Malik told Billboard when the piece was first announced.
“What she stands for will bring a new layer of meaning to A Jester’s Tale and vice versa. What is real and what is a mere representation has been a foundational idea in the history of media and art. We happen to be living at a time when immersive technology is allowing for literal manifestations of this idea while our social media lives are leading to an increasingly altered sense of reality.”
The twelve-minute narrative made its debut this weekend at The New Frontier in Sundance. It invites viewers into a young boy’s bedroom to experience a psychologically taxing children’s fable that merges with the physical world around you. Holograms appear and disappear around the room as an AI robot monitors reactions and responses to existential questions, ultimately determining if viewers are in fact real, or a robot.
If you’re good at keeping your cool under pressure, you might come out on top. I personally failed the test at “What is three times three” because the atmosphere was so clinically eery in a delightful way.
I’d like to say that this experience sucked me in completely, but it fell short for me on a few fronts with technical glitches and poorly cropped holograms. That said, the narrative succeeds in taking viewers out of their comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory that is very Poppy. And for her fans, they’ll be just as shocked and delighted as ever.