The Mill’s Experience team recently teamed up with HBO to create Lovecraft Country: Sanctum, a series of first-of-their-kind virtual reality events transporting guests into a world inspired by the hit HBO show Lovecraft Country. The first event, ‘Garden of Eden’ premiered on September 3rd, inviting 100 select guests into a virtual world that was a manifestation and celebration of cultural and artistic themes within the show. We caught up with Associate Creative Director at The Mill Sally Reynolds on designing the overall looks of the virtual space.
“Of the 5 different experience concepts pitched, this was definitely the wildest one!” says Sally when asked about her journey from inception to execution. “There are three timely environmental factors that are structural bones of this project – affordable mobile hardware (Oculus Quest), an established and collaborative platform (VRChat), and thirdly a global pandemic that has forced audiences indoors and elevated interest in virtual experiences. Those bones dictate the sandbox we have to play in visually – we are designing with maximum optimization in mind, whilst providing the most stimulating experience possible for our guests. As such, we set out intentionally avoiding replication of the very rich visuals from the show – not wanting to draw comparisons between the big screen and mobile VR. Rather, we set it in a futuristic place, utilizing brutalist forms to help us keep the spaces vast and polycount low, fused with a fantastically spooky tone to deliver a distinctly Lovecraftian world.”
Sally was integral in the collaboration with 3 afro-futuristic artists, producing their art installations in the virtual world. She comments that the space was “driven by the artists and artwork they have created. The design challenge being the adaptation of these highly detailed pieces into a highly optimised medium, whilst maintaining the integrity of the original artwork.” Divine Opulence by David Alabo and SBH Rae and Falling Roses by Devan Shimoyama are existing installations rendered into the Sanctum, and Yung Yemi created a bespoke piece titled Ancestors’ Dream, a 3-story tall sculpture that viewers can inhabit.
Sally continues, “One of the most interesting aspects of this project is seeing people experience social VR for the first time, it’s still a relatively new space and the first event saw 100 invitees to the Sanctum, many of whom are trying VR for the first time. Sanctum is a virtual place where body language, posture, gestures and the use of space play their usual roles of conveying an unspoken communication. And even more curiously, this interaction is played out in the body of an avatar – allowing our guests the freedom to behave with an altered & equalized perspective of self. During a period where we are physically not allowed to mingle with each other, observing strangers experience a sense of togetherness in this virtual world is awesome.”
Read more about Sanctum here. You can view Sanctum via YouTube Live during the following dates and times this Fall:
Event #2: An American Dream
Thursday, September 24
10:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM PT
Event #3: Music of the Cosmos
Monday, October 19
10:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM PT
Follow Sally on Instagram @sallybrabbit and get in touch with Mill Experience at email@example.com