This is how we helped Hatsumi grow

Hey Sarah, I know you recently had some success with Jobs in XR in building your team. What have you been looking for and what were some of the challenges you had finding someone?

Hey Toby, I certainly have! I’d been dancing around VR for a while, as an event producer, researcher and VR curator at a mental health and arts festival.

In the last 6 months, I have been developing Hatsumi a virtual reality and mental health company, which at its heart is developing a VR experience — both of which is a a totally new experience to me. I needed someone with the right artistic and technical skills to help support development of the application, and the company too.

I wanted to find a collaborator who I could go on this journey with. The writing process felt a bit like writing a lonely hearts advertisement, and I was surprised to notice how vulnerable I felt when putting it out into the ether.

I was sharing through friends, mentors, VR Slack Channels and social media without much luck. I had received some other applications, but most applicants lived abroad, and despite including some flexibility in the requirements, I wanted someone to work with in person — nothing had quite materialised yet.

Did you know about Jobs in XR before hand?

I hadn’t! I think I first came across you when you liked the instagram post I put up about the role.

How did JXR help you out?

JXR kindly shared the role on the website and Instagram page. I received an email from Nico, and I still remember the feeling of excitement whilst reading his message.

He wrote an incredibly considerate email in which he described his experience and passion for supporting the field of mental health and wellbeing. I was really impressed by the samples of work he shared, and hearing about his intention to use his creative experience to support some form of social good. He just got what we’re trying to do.

Coincidentally, Nico lives just down the road in Brighton (where I’m also based).

Sarah Ticho of Hatsumi
We arranged for him to come to the Fusebox (the co-working space I’m based at) for an interview. We had scheduled it for an hour and he stayed for nearly two and half!

We had a really enjoyable conversation, I showed him the demo, discussed where Hatsumi is at, and what is on the horizon in the next few months.

I explained that one of the big upcoming deadlines was to redevelop the prototype for an upcoming exhibition we’re featuring in this September. I invited him on board with this goal in mind, and for us to review how we felt then.

We’ve been working together for nearly a month, and already it’s been brilliant. He continues to work full time until we gain successful funding, yet we’ve achieved a lot in what is a pretty short period. He’s so generous with his time, and is as invested in it as I am.

We’re already planning for our next steps after September, and genuinely couldn’t have found someone more perfect for the role.

He mentioned that you had been in touch with him about the website, and said were really approachable so thought I decided to drop you a message and say thank you. I’m really am so grateful that you shared the job listing, I couldn’t imagine where Hatsumi, or I would be without Nico.

Totally a pleasure! So what’s your awesome project? Can you tell us more about it?

Hatsumi is a virtual reality healthcare platform, designed to enable diagnostic and therapeutic intervention through creative expression and mindfulness. The experience bridges the intersection of healthcare, art and technology to create a unique new form of knowledge translation around lived experience of pain and mental health.

The platform uses participatory art as a tool to explore the nature of emotional distress and human experience. It enables users to engage in a holistic reflection and examination into the origins and sensory nature of their experience. Through utilising mindfulness techniques and art creation, users are able to generate powerful visual narratives that represent their lives, identity and experiences onto life size human canvases using 3D painting tools. They have the option to anonymously share them to an online archive of human experience for yourself and others to explore.

We’re still in the early stages of development, but are looking to launch it as an online experience next year. We are working to gain funding and to ensure the experience is built in collaboration with people with lived experience of mental health conditions and pain, psychologists and healthcare professionals. We are working with a university partner to develop it further as a form of therapeutic intervention. From there we hope to put it through clinical trials to see if it can have a meaningful impact on how people perceive, experience and communicate pain.

Where can we see you work? It would be great to see your teams work in action

We are curating and featuring in an upcoming exhibition: Noösphere: Mindfulness in a Hyper-Connected World, which will be held September 20–23rd at The Old Market and part of the Brighton Digital Festival.

About Noösphere: Mindfulness

Scientists and meditation gurus alike have sung the praises of mindfulness as a technique we can harness to improve our mental wellbeing.

Whilst living in an age of hyper-connectivity often perpetuates mental distress, perhaps we can use technology as a tool to connect with ourselves, regulate our emotions and regain control over our minds and bodies.

Join us for an hour-long journey through three immersive experiences, inviting you to breathe, embody and visualise mindfulness.

It’s coming soon…

We will be showing our newly developed prototype alongside two other amazing immersive experiences including Inner Eye, developed by Keisuke Suzuki at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness at the University of Sussex.

The installation will offer an implemented visualisation of one’s heartbeat on a virtual object superimposed in the real world. We will also be showing a preview Trail of Angels, a meditative VR animation which invites the viewer to explore a mysterious Afterlife World based on M.K.Čiurlionis paintings and music, observing and interacting with the surrounding during visually stunning day-night cycles.

It showed at the Venice Biennale this year, and is previewing with us before it’s official premiere at Raindance Festival the following week.

Tickets: £15
16–25 tickets: £5 (limited availability)

It would be great to see some of the JXR community there!