Extraordinary Stories in Virtual Reality

Oculus Trauma: Inside Oscar Raby’s 'Assent'

Creator’s Project

Witness the horrors of war in this award-winning interactive virtual reality documentary.

Chilean-born artist Oscar Raby’s interactive virtual reality documentary Assentuses dream logic and video game aesthetics to investigate the aftershocks of war. Recently selected for Sundance's New Frontier exhibition, the Oculus-enabled experience allows users to assume the role of Raby’s father and relive his trauma. Assent stands out from other Oculus projects because it is explicitly personal. It is not a tech demo, or a ride on a roller coaster made of polygons—it is an unblinking examination of the ways in which the horrors of war are passed down from generation to generation.

Assent has had a great run so far. In addition to Sundance next month, the project won the Cross-Platform Audience Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest earlier this year. And when I first encountered Assent at IDFA DocLab, it was so popular I was unable to secure a 15-minute screening appointment.

Earlier this week, I borrowed a friend’s Oculus and stepped into Assent. The following day I connected with Raby to talk about the project’s origins, and to discuss what virtual reality has in common with stage magic.

AssentKaty Morrison