Where There’s Smoke is a story told through thousands of fire slides, audio interviews and enchanted objects hidden throughout the set of a burned room

13 Immersive Things — claymation games, AI theatre, VR/AR escape rooms, enchanted objects and more…

September edition of our monthly round-up of immersive things

The following is a list of immersive things that mix story, play, design and code.

At Columbia DSL we explore new forms and functions of storytelling. Through our programs, prototypes and events we strive to build collaborative spaces that push at the edges of the impossible.

Upcoming Columbia DSL fall events — apply now
9/22 — Story I/O prototyping festival 
10/23 — Immersive Dinner Party Challenge with Frankenstein AI

Collaborators Wanted! We also hold monthly meetups at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and are currently building a global prototyping community.

We’re always searching for interesting immersive things. If you know of something that we should experience or if you’re interested in collaborating with us please let us know.


Harold Halibut — Slow Bros

Harold Halibut is a stop motion-inspired claymated adventure game about a lone janitor stranded on a submerged spaceship deep below the surface of a mysterious water planet. The ship was originally meant as humanity’s last-ditch effort to continue life outside of Earth, but the crash-landed would-be utopia now serves as the bitter home of inhabitants born generations after the original launch. As part-time lab assistant to one of the lead scientists on board the ship, it’s up to you to explore the vessel, interact with its occupants, and try to make a second launch possible.” — IGN

Remnant — Mixed Flour

41 guests were invited to partake in Remnant’s culinary adventure, which unfolded over several hours and three courses.

“Remnant is an immersive, interactive dinner experience that pairs food with technology to tell a story. It’s the brainchild of Feminist Frequency executive director Anita Sarkeesian and Magic Leap interaction director Aleissia Laidacker. A self-described foodie, Sarkeesian was inspired to create the project after hearing Laidacker give a talk about mixed reality and how it can bring digital content and game design into the real world. She pitched the idea for Remnant about a week later.”

Potato Dreams — Wes Hurley

“Wes Hurley’s surreal VR autobiographical doc tells the story of Little Potato’s journey growing up gay in the Soviet Union before and after the fall of communism, his mother’s struggles to create a better life for them both, leading eventually to her becoming a mail order bride in order to insure their escape to America.”

Spellbound: Enchanted By Magical Thinking — Ashmolean Museum

“The Ashmolean Museum’s autumn exhibition Spellbound explores the timeless cross-cultural belief in magic through 180 objects — often strange and chilling — from the ritualistic, to the totemic — including crystal balls and mummified cats — the show also includes three works of contemporary art that explore not only how our ancestors used magical thinking to feel in control of their existence, but how we still use that thought process today.”

René Magritte: The Fifth Season — frog + SFMOMA

“A face dissolved behind a cloud-screen re-emerges in strange bubbles — eyes and lips, dissociated and bobbing in a surreal sky. That’s how it feels to be inside Magritte’s painting “Shéhérazade.”

In the final room of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s show “René Magritte: The Fifth Season,” which opened in May, museumgoers can transform themselves into art at the Magritte Interpretive Gallery, a series of “six augmented reality interactions” with the Belgian surrealist’s work.”

Journey to the Underworld — Funicular

The team behind the sell-out Murder Express returns with a new immersive theatre and dining experience, Journey to the Underworld

“Due to launch on 28 September and run until 7 November, the production, created by Funicular, invites you to sell your soul to experience a dark fairytale where fear, fantasy, danger and lust intertwine in the greatest love story never told. Board the luxury train carriage at Pedler Street Station in Bethnal Green and enjoy your last meal in paradise as you head for the underworld.”

Seance — Darkfield

“Glen Neath and David Rosenberg produce pitch-black theatre. Their company, Darkfield, develops plays that take place in rooms so devoid of light you cannot see your hand in front of your face. The only clues about your surroundings come through sound: every audience member wears a pair of headphones playing audio recorded to create an uncanny impression of space and movement.”

Submerged: VR Escape the Room — Blue Entropy Studios

In Submerged players will find themselves immersed in a room is filling up with water

“The newest virtual reality (VR) title from Blue Entropy Studios has released on Steam and challenges players to escape from a room filling with water. Entitled Submerged: VR Escape the Room, players will need to overcome any fears they might have of water and use all of their skills and problem solving to beat the clock and escape with their life.”

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine — Dim Bulb Studios

“When I head inside for shelter, it turns out I’m not alone; in each corner of the barn, there is a man, each identically dressed, staring at me in complete silence. Eventually, I fall asleep, and when I wake up they’re all gone, along with all my cash.

It’s a terrifying way to spend a night. But more importantly, it’s an excellent story. Where the Water Tastes Like Wine — the debut release from Dim Bulb Games, a studio founded by Gone Home co-creator Johnnemann Nordhagen — is an experience that is entirely about stories: telling them, finding them, and seeing the ways they change over time.”

Where There’s Smoke — Lance Weiler

Please note this is my own work

A story told through thousands of fire slides, audio interviews and enchanted objects hidden throughout the set of a burned room

“In 1983 our van burst into flames on a family vacation. Eleven months later our house would burn to the ground. As I explore my past I find mysterious connections to these blazes and come face to face with a closet full of skeletons.

Where There’s Smoke mixes a live documentary, immersive theatre and an escape room to create an experience that explores memory and loss. Set within the aftermath of a blaze, participants race to determine the cause of a tragic fire by sifting through the charred remains. Inspired by true events in my life, Where There’s Smoke details the connections between two mysterious fires and my father’s battle with cancer.”

Where There’s Smoke will be at the Future of Storytelling next month

Parallel Narratives — Trish Denton

“Parallel Narratives merges traditions of folk storytelling and ensemble theater work with playful exercises in personal introspection. The objective is for participants to develop and share a fantastical version of their life story — that is, their own parallel narrative.”

Awavena — Nicole Newnham and Lynette Wallworth

“Working alongside Tashka, chief of the Amazon’s Yawanawá tribe, filmmakers Nicole Newnham and Lynette Wallworth used augmented reality, 360-degree film footage, and virtual reality to give viewers an immersive Ayahuasca experience, one that’s rooted in the rainforest and tradition from which it came…”

I Am Echoborg — Rik Lander and Phil D. Hall

“I am Echoborg is a funny and thought-provoking performance that is created each night by the audience in conversation with an artificial intelligence. A host sets a challenge: can you discover the best possible outcome for the relationship between humans and intelligent machines? The rest is down to the ensuing conversations.”

I am Echoborg will be at the Future of Storytelling next month.


Check out past Immersive Things editions
July | August

Interested in exploring new forms and functions of storytelling?

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