The psychedelic mushroom simulator was one of the strangest experiences at Sundance 2020.
If you’ve paid attention to our coverage of Sundance this past weekend, you’re already well aware of the eclectic, insanely bizarre lineup of strange and imaginative immersive projects occupying this year’s New Frontier program.
This includes Hypha, a surreal 17-minute journey that took me from the outer reaches of space to beneath the Earth’s surface. Developed by Maltrato Films, Hypha centers around the circle of life; how death is part of the natural order and an integral aspect of nature.
Slipping into an HTC Vive Pro headset, I began my adventure as a single hypha, one of many filaments forming the mycelium of a fungus, living on the perimeter of a large meteorite gliding through the cosmos. Here I was accompanied by several other talkative hyphas, each of which chatting endlessly like a flock of seagulls. Suddenly, Earth’s gravity took hold of my temporary domicile and we began to accelerate towards the planet’s surface.
Once on the ground, I found myself surrounded on all sides by a forest crippled by man-made contamination and various other harmful elements that had turned the environment toxic. Before I would really soak in my surrounds however, I steadily began sinking into the soil directly below the base of a decaying tree. This is where things get even more interesting.
Below the surface of the forest, a vast network of roots and branches sprouting from the trunk of the decaying tree were spreading out in all directions like a network of veins. The mood is grim; a voice representing the dying tree tells me it’s too late, that nothing can save it now. Not all hope is lost, however. At this point, I begin racing throughout the intertwining roots, along the way using my Vive controllers to spread life-giving goodness.
The experience culminated with me reemerging from the soil, this time as a magnificent mushroom. Once I reached my max height, I began to physically shake back and forth in my headset, spreading nutrient-rich spores throughout the area and returning life to a once doomed forest in the process.
For more information on Hypha, visit here.
Feature Image Credit: Sundance Insitute