Available on Daydream View and as a 360 YouTube video, Limbo enables viewers to experience what life is like for many asylum seekers in the UK who are waiting to hear whether they will be permitted to stay in the country and build a new life. The project is the Guardian’s fourth virtual reality experience and is constructed from interviews with asylum seekers from 12 countries as well as immigration lawyers and barristers working in the UK.
Placing viewers in the shoes of a newly arrived asylum seeker, Limbo uses the voices of real asylum seekers to guide the viewer through the experience - from arriving in an unfamiliar city, fear for loved ones left behind, worry about not being allowed to work, to the Home Office interview which will decide their fate.
According to the Guardian, Limbo allows viewers to better understand the potential psychological impact of asylum seekers’ experiences so far, which can be compounded by the subsequent isolation and asylum process. They are caught between two lives, that of the place they left - the piece features flashbacks to a war torn city reduced to rubble, and their family trying to escape - and the new life they hope to build for themselves. For many, claiming asylum in the UK is also the first step towards bringing their dependents to safety.
Innovative 3D scanning technology has been used to capture urban streets, interiors and live action to create Limbo’s 360 world. The resulting monochrome sketch-like aesthetic has the quality of a dream or nightmare where worlds are transparent and fragmented.
Francesca Panetta, executive editor, virtual reality, Guardian News & Media, said: “The Guardian has covered the issue of asylum extensively for many years. We know that it can be a very disorientating, isolating and confusing process and have aimed to capture a sense of this through the fragmented quality of Limbo’s design. Through harnessing the visual capabilities of VR we have been able to bring this to the fore for viewers and hope this enables them to better understand the asylum experience.”
Limbo is available on Daydream View and 360 video. It will also be available soon on Samsung VR.