On The Morning You Wake
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On The Morning You Wake (To the End of the World): do not miss this VR documentary

Reading time: 3 minutes

January 13th, 2018, 8:08 am, an alert is issued to the 1.4 million citizens of Hawaii. They’re told that a ballistic missile threat has been detected, that it is not a drill and that they must seek shelter immediately.

When the unthinkable happens

This story may seem implausible, but it all too real: this message really was sent and received, and the Hawaiian population really faced what they thought was an imminent nuclear apocalypse. They waited 38 minutes before, at long last, receiving a second message telling them to disregard the alert and that a huge mistake had been made. The thread was quite credible: Hawaii is located at a strategic point in the Pacific Ocean, and ballistic missiles have been installed there by the USA. The archipelago would therefore be a likely target in case of a preemptive nuclear strike by a foreign nation.

On The Morning You Wake (To the End of the World) is a touching VR documentary about this event. This unusual day is told through the visceral experiences of those who lived it, each one telling us how they reacted to this threat: a desperate attempt to reach their loved ones on the other side of an island, a phone call to their family located far from Hawaii, and even a survivor of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II, who was so traumatized by what she witnessed as a child that she would rather die than relive it. All these testimonies shed light on how the Hawaiian population reacted to what they thought might be their imminent death.

Volumetric video, an artistic tool

These testimonies are made even more visceral thanks to the use of volumetric video, a technique we explored recently with our interview of 4DViews. Basically, the witnesses have been filmed from multiple point of views, and are displayed in VR in 3D as if they were in front of you.
Hawaii, on the other hand, is mostly shown as a point cloud or as landscapes made of geometric shapes. A stylized and fragmented approach that fits the tone of this documentary about shattered lives.
Last, but not least, the VR experience is also infused with the words of Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, a Hawaiian poet and activist.

More than a VR documentary: a political message

On the Morning You Wake is a powerful documentary, but this VR experience does not stop there. The goal is also to remind us that we can end the threat we face from nuclear weapons, that their existence is inherently unjust. Even though nuclear threat can feel distant compared to climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic or non-nuclear war, it is still very real.

On the Morning You Wake will also remind you that such weapons are, in the end, quite absurd, as entire communities are basically held hostage by them.

It there any chance this pacifist and anti-militarist documentary can have a real impact when it comes to nuclear weapons, as Russia reminds the whole world that they do possess nuclear missiles? It is hard to say.
This VR documentary, however, will definitely make you reflect on this topic, which is already a victory in itself.

We discovered this VR experience at Paris, during NewImages Festival 2022 et le Festival d’Annecy 2022.
On The Morning You Wake (To the End of the World) is available for free on Meta Quest. We highly recommend you check it out.

Created by Mike Brett, Steve Jamison, Arnaud Colinart and Pierre Zandrowicz, this VR experience is written by Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, Mike Brett & Steve Jamison, co-produced by Archer’s Mark, Atlas V, Arte France, VR for Good META, Games for Change, Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, Studio Novelab.

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