Gabo Arora with Angela Watercutter – SXSW Sessions On Demand Video

May 15, 2020 Hailey Hess

The virtual world has become more vital than ever as we spend our weeks on work video chats, trying to connect to loved ones through our screens, and even attending online concerts from our bedrooms.

Gabo Arora – a world-renowned and award-winning immersive artist, professor, and former UN diplomat – is the voice we need in today’s discussion of the future of virtual reality and its value as a platform for empathetic storytelling. He is joined by Senior Editor at WIRED Angela Watercutter for a virtual conversation in our weekly SXSW Sessions series.

Arora emerged on the VR scene with a filmmaking background. He thinks of the storytelling medium as one still being molded, and wonders if it is the current version of the impressionist canvas. Venturing even further, he claims that he is “technologically agnostic in some ways,” encouraging creators to try a lot of different things out when storytelling.

“We can’t lose sight of the feeling, the experimentation and the wow factor that you get from just being impractical with the technology.” – Gabo Arora

The fear for most is that the more enhanced and realistic screen time becomes, the less human-to-human engagement and physical contact will occur. While so many are limited to their homes, this feels like a very close reality and the value for human connection is proving invaluable. Arora encourages that VR expands your consciousness and is in a way a mental exercise that will never replace but enhance your connections with the world and people around you.

“I’ve always been influenced by books – they’re the original empathy machines and when you read them…your consciousness is expanded, you care about issues differently, you engage with the world.”

Hear more about Arora’s projects and hopes for the future of VR, and check back next week for more SXSW Sessions On Demand.

Watch Now

SXSW Sessions Online is a weekly series featuring 2020 speakers virtually sharing their stories along with a special Q&A portion. Catch previously-recorded programming on demand via our YouTube channel playlist.

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