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Ali Eslami at the Forefront of Surreal and Unique Virtual Reality Experiences with ‘Recept’

Virtual Reality provides unforeseen potential when it come to experiencing media in a new way. The fact is, virtual reality transports you into a different world instantly. Whether be a destination on Earth or someone’s imagination, you’re able to step into a different reality, right from the comfort of your own home. Which is why it’s exciting to see the different style’s of VR experiences developers are creating at this very moment.

This brings me to a guy named Ali Eslami. A computer artist based in Tehran Iran, who produces virtual environments. His first experience was creating digital stadiums and faces for Iran’s Football League for PES 6, from 2006 to 2008. He went on to spend the next few years being a 3D Artist and Architecture’s assistant, refining his skills in developing 3D environments. Ali has a great portfolio, showcasing his skills and latest works. Though I want to focus more on his conceptualized virtual reality experiences.

One of his earlier VR project was the reproduction of Rene Magritte’s Paintings within a 3D world. He utilized Unreal Engine 4 to power this miniature world. The demo puts you inside a enclosed room, with each wall hosting a work of Magritte. For instance, the “Listening Room” or the stone-bricked room with a big green apple, can be entered through a quirky carved out door from the initial room. This showed a interesting way of showcasing famous artists work, that brings them to the 21st century.

Another VR project he created was the “DeathTolls Experience.” The idea is that we use our Mind’s Eye to perceive quantities or amounts. More specifically to this project, we utilize our imagination to get a feel for numbers when it comes to understanding what 10,000 or 100,000 deaths may look like. This project can be classified as an morbid experience that set’s in the reality of what 10,000 dead bodies look like, by putting you in a room with them.

It’s not gory, where you’ll see skeletons or rotting flesh. By multiple pictures of himself covered with a white blanket, he was able to re-create a 360 degree image of a covered body. These digital images are then multiplied onto a wooden floor, giving you a clear visual representation of what 10,000 dead bodies look like.

Ali’s goal for this project was for people to understand what death tolls look like in tragic events, such as the US drone strikes in Pakistan. It is said, virtual reality will reconstruct the way we empathize and a experience like this will surely do the trick for most.

His latest project, ‘Recept,’ is a surreal one. It utilizes Leap Motion, a hand-tracking haptic interface, which proves very useful for providing a enhanced sense of ‘presence’ within virtual reality. Ali describes ‘Recept” as “kinda like a dynamic ever-changing Metaverse of connected realities.” You start off in a void-like environment with a colorful vortex in front of you, which can be manipulated at a distance with your hands.

Before your journey begins, you hear a voice that informs you, “we removed your knowledge base!” This is to signal, that the worlds you are about to venture into will be based on zero-knowledge. This is the element that brings surrealism to the experience. As you venture out of the void, the vortex merges with a different reality, which in turn merges with another reality.

In one reality you can manipulate mountains with your hands and in another your hands become animated stone with he ability to shrink and expand boulders. You may even meet the head of Nefertiti, but not as you know it. Even though Ali considers this a prototype, such as his previous VR projects, Recept provides you with a new and unique experience, every time you reset your adventure.

It is hard at times, to immerse people in imaginative worlds on a two-dimensional screen. The VR experiences that Ali Eslami has produced, further cements that virtual reality experiences will find a secure spot in the near future. Being able to journey to surreal worlds and explore the inner-depths of one’s imagination, is something to look forward to when you finally obtain your immersive headset.

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