While some of us throw in the towel after a couple of pretend roller coaster rides or ten minutes of Dirt Rally, other virtual reality pioneers are out there in the world doing the impossible. People like Thorsten Wiedemann, founder and director or A MAZE festival and editor-in-chief of the magazine of the same name. Wiedemann recently livestreamed a performance art piece called 'Disconnected' in which he spent 48 uninterrupted hours using an HTC Vive, and he got through it with "no physical problems."
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Wiedemann was guided through his two-day VR marathon by Lucid Trips co-designer Lisa Ann Vogel, who took on the role of "VR shaman." Vogel took Wiedemann through sessions of (deep breath) Lucid Trips, Tiltbrush, Fantastic Contraption, VRLympix, Hover Junkers, AltspaceVR, VRChat, Blocked In, and more. I mean, they did have 48 hours to kill.
The purpose of Disconnect wasn't endurance, but rather an experiment into what life might be like ten years from now if and when VR becomes the norm.
"[In 2026], it is normal that you jump into VR to meet your international friends in Social VR Rooms and go on crazy adventures together,” Wiedemann told Vice. “But a long trip will be still special and could be understood as a controlled drug experience."
So what this really was, then, was a shaman taking someone on a 48-hour-long trip. With that context established, it's not altogether unsurprising that Widemann suffered a panic attack 25 hours in, and came close to ending the performance. It's indredible to me that he didn't.
Also incredible: he didn't feel any motion sickness. "I had no physical problems, no burning eyes, killing headaches or nausea,” says Wiedemann. “The path to the future is now prepared—we only need specially-designed content to get a full immersive experience, and this will take probably until 2026. But what is time? [So] I will experiment more in this direction.”
You can watch a lengthy chunk of the livestream here, although I'll warn you: it's not much of a spectator sport.