At SXSW 2018, I was invited to participate in a four-day immersion experience called SimuLife. Mounted by the creative laboratory based on Austin Interactive Deep Dive, SimuLife is destined to blur the line between fantasy and reality by allowing me to interact with history as part of everyday life. It's like the movie The Game by David Fincher, executed in the real world. Apart from those extensive edicts, they did not give me advance information about the experience. I am documenting my journey through history, wherever I drive.
The story begins with the first part: I am a transdimensional dopplegänger.
When I come to SXSW, I usually expect to see movies, go to panels, and maybe catch one or more activations of the brand. What I do not expect is that he is kidnapped by a group of anti-technology extremists and cornered in his plan to bring down a huge technological conglomerate. In Austin, it turns out that everything is possible.
On Sunday I got up and kept on dealing with what happened the day before. I discovered that a new technology called OpenMind created a transdimensional schism, which forced me to change places with a Bishop of Bryan from another alternate reality: he would appear in his world, where he was the creator of OpenMind, and it would appear in mine. . I ended up having an appointment with the wife of the other bishop, a senator in Texas, and when I told her who I really was, I discovered that her marriage had died years ago. He did not even want his real husband to return, he told me, but we devised a plan anyway: he would try to steal the device that had caused the dimensional interruption and destroy it.
I planned to meet with Paige, Verge's new intern, for another morning coffee meeting, and we started walking to a place in East Austin. For the last 48 hours, he had become my confidant, and when I explained what happened the previous night with Bishop's wife, she scoffed: "Aww, do you think he fell in love with you?"
"Aww, do you think he fell in love with you?"
At a certain moment, Paige decided to present me with a confidence exercise called "walking blind". I closed my eyes and she guided me forward. From time to time, she would touch the top of my head, which would be a signal for me to briefly open my eyes. He turned our walk into a series of snapshots: a group of vagabonds, a dilapidated home, some random Bible verses scribbled on a fence.
Then Paige raised the bet: she would walk a few meters ahead without her guide. Giving up that degree of control was exciting in a way. And then I heard it: the noisy and strange trill that meant that it had changed the timelines.
I opened my eyes, and indeed, Paige was gone. I was alone in an alley. Then, a white SUV came around the corner and stopped. A woman with braided hair and a baseball cap came out and approached me. Later, I learned that her name was Nikita, but at this time, all I wanted to know was if she was willing to talk about the good and the bad of OpenMind technology that she thought she had created.
I accepted: in this kind of immersive story, if you do not cooperate with the narrative, there is no narration. The driver was not giving names at that time, and when I got in, they instructed me to put a paper bag over my head so I could not track where they were taking me. The car took off, and that's when the puncture began. They wanted to know if I believed in OpenMind technology and if I thought it was good for corporations to use it to read people's thoughts. I related the story I had heard the previous night: how the couple had been saved by a gentleman thanks to OpenMind, but they were not impressed. After all, they thought I was a bishop, and they had thrown him out of their own company in December, and therefore they had no control over what was being done with their creation.
They blindfolded me, being led by people I did not know in a state that I had only visited a handful of times
There he was: blindfolded, surrounded by people he did not know, in a state he had only visited several times, and suddenly it seemed that he had made a very silly decision to agree to get into the car. it does not matter what timeline I was on
Finally we stopped, and they accompanied me up some stairs to a meeting room in the basement. There were five of them: Nikita, the driver, Jules, a blonde woman named Clementine, a man with the appearance of serious sweatshirts named Coco and the leader of the group, Max.
In real life, I am quite reluctant to conflict. I may be angry or frustrated, but I tend to avoid direct and face-to-face conflict whenever possible. But one of the gifts of immersive entertainment is that it provides a safe space where you can do and say things you would not do in real life. Maybe that's swearing allegiance to a supernatural cult, or acting as a voyeur in a show like Sleep No More. Either way, it is an opportunity for members of the audience to leave their comfort zones. But at the time, I was so immersed in the narrative that I was not even thinking about that aspect. I just knew that I could go back to my own timeline at any time. I really had nothing to lose. Then I let myself get mad.
I got into them for kidnapping me. Max tried to scream at me, putting me right in my face; I screamed back. He explained his story, how he had profiled his brother with OpenMind and identified him as a potential threat, and what was supposed to be a check-in by the local police had turned into a shooting that left his brother dead . It was an invasive measure that should never happen again, and Max was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he stopped. I listened to their story and threw their tactics in their faces. If they wanted my help, I told them that kidnapping me in a van was not a good way to do it. I will be completely honest: relying on that anger and frustration, without any concern for the decorum we find in our ordinary lives, I felt absolutely stimulating.
I got angry, and it was liberating
Max sat down, frustrated by our round trip, and we tacked up. A massive conglomerate called Cooder & Cooder was interested in buying OpenMind, and apparently wanted to bring Bishop to the fold for unknown reasons. There was a meeting on Monday (the same meeting mocked the two men I met at the beginning of this crazy adventure) and Max wanted me to bring one of his people to observe.
Part of me did not want to. It was not the kind of situation that arises in real life: a kidnapper who asks permission to suspend a meeting. But at a certain level I enjoyed having all the power in the dynamics; They outnumbered me, but my captors still needed something that only I could provide. Finally, Nikita brought me around. Yes, I started to believe that this OpenMind technology served a greater good, but it was also clear that it was not under the control of Bishop or any other person who could be considered reliable. Trying to snatch that control was the only morally reasonable decision.
We made plans for Nikita to accompany me to the meeting on Monday as my assistant, and then, suddenly, there was someone at the door. Max rummaged his team to avoid being discovered; We quickly ran to the next room, climbed a secret staircase, and through the roof door. We spilled in a room full of magnificent statues. I had no idea where Max's group had taken me, and I only had the shortest moment to take in the room before we were outside, running to different vehicles and dispersing.
Eventually, they would discover that I was not the bishop, they thought I was
Jules and Clementine left me at my hotel and I returned to my room. He did not know what the next day's meeting would bring, and he was not sure if he trusted Max or Nikita completely. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had committed myself to a course of action, burying myself under another layer of lies in the process.
In the back of my mind, there was an insistent voice that repeated the same idea: eventually, this resistance group would discover that I was not the bishop they thought I was.
Join us for the next installment of The SimuLife Diaries, where I discover that our own timeline is being damaged, none other than by Bishop.