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Bridging The Gap Between Immersive Technology And Our Everyday Lives: The Making of “Abyss”

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Almost a month after the grand opening of The CAVE and some positive feedback from guests, we get behind the scenes with the creators and lead designers of its first exhibition, “Abyss.” Ruah Kim, chief director of the CAVE and “Abyss” said, “The CAVE was made to experience what we can’t in real life, diving into MR (mixed reality) portals.” The CAVE’s chosen location, Gwanghwamun, is in the heart of the Korean capital. Ruah adds, “It’s as though we were digging underground and found the CAVE. Then we went further and found our way into the Abyss.”

This metaverse experience transports one into the deep blue sea, presenting the mammoth humpback whale, glowy jellyfish and a gigantic pearl oyster. The exhibition was inspired by the Blue Mind Theory and when immersed within, brings a calming effect to your senses. Coincidentally, the exhibition’s Korean title “심연” (pronounced “Shim-yeon”) means “heart.” “It’s about finding what’s really deep in your heart and this is the kind of exhibition we want to present to city people,” says Ruah. The five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell were core to this first metaverse exhibition as it eases this new technology into our lives.

When asked about the creative starting point, Kevin Lee, lead designer for “Abyss” shared, “I want to test what people want to see and expect from this new technology.” The MR devices could cost up to US$3,500 a piece, creating a high entry barrier for the immersive technology adoption. Kevin said, “I think people should come to the CAVE to try out. That may stir some curiosity and desire to create something through MR.” As for “Abyss,” Kevin wanted a literal translation of others’ idea of the deep sea, “I really didn’t want to explain too much to our customers at our first exhibition. Instead, I wanted them to see the majestic wonders of the deep sea not simply through the screen but with the HoloLens.” According to Kevin, he’s made 150 versions of “Abyss” to date.

Vinnie Son, the team’s experience designer said, “I chose to create a blobfish since it’s a popular meme. Then I wanted to hide the blobfish like an Easter egg which people could search while enjoying the deep sea exhibition.” She added, “I like going to aquariums and without being behind glass windows, all these sea creatures were right there next to me.” Adding to the fun element of “Abyss” is having a photo taken in the metaverse. According to Vinnie, she wanted people to fondly remember the exhibition after leaving the CAVE, “We can take a photo through the HoloLens, print it out and have people keep the exhibition vibe on the way home.”

Kevin started his career in VR and explains how MR is a much “friendlier” version with higher interactivity. His favorite part of the process: The real world considerations. “In VR I had unlimited digital space and I didn’t have to connect with the real world, but with MR, I have to consider things like sunlight, area structure, wall and floor colors, temperature, smell etc. So, that’s challenging, but also exciting.” As an architecture major, Vinnie said, “The metaverse equals no gravity and infinite material. That’s thrilling for an architect since much of it isn’t possible in the real world.”

The team made this exhibition possible in a short span of 3 months, but they aren’t resting on their laurels. “Interaction is our holy grail, we want to keep learning more about how to use this technology better, so it’ll be useful to everyone’s lives,” says Ruah. Customer feedback is continuously collected and new editions of “Abyss” will be included. Next up, the team will launch a Halloween edition in crimson red. Get your costume on and head down to the CAVE for a spooky “Abyss” experience.


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