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“I push myself through the peel, the mass. The void. Sometimes gently, sometimes with noise and acceleration, but always fluid. Floating, forever floating.” 

In July of 2020 we started with a project in which we wanted to explore the mindfulness side of Virtual Reality. We are both fascinated by the concept of a Floating Tank. A place to retreat and look for balance. We think of floating as a way of transcending within the comfort of our own body. The warm salty water feels oily on the skin and brings us in a state of being

where time and space are not important anymore. It provides a perfect womb. A safe space to recharge our batteries and also a place where we can mute the outside world. If we shut out external noise, what would our human mantra sound like? How can we make room for a dialogue between the heart and the mind. Ascension tries to question these topics. We have tried to facilitate a canvas for the visitor to reflect and associate freely. To let go of whatever it is our physical body and the outside world asks of us and to just be able to be, to exist. We did a lot of research into transcendental meditation and Buddhism, yoga and floating. We are convinced that these kinds of practices are looking for a connection with the inner self.

If we want our audience members to just be, we should convince them to connect with themselves. We feel a general collective need to find ways to embrace ‘the digital’ in a new manner. To have it enhance and enrich our lives in a deeper form, as opposed to giving us a feeling of being trapped in a rat race. Ascension is a work based on a search for balance between the heart and the head. A work initially made to create an experience in which the visitor walks through a specific curated theatrical space towards a setting where the VR part of the experience takes place. A procession of sorts to welcome and mould the visitor to provide a perfect state to experience the work. As we come from a working field where the theatrics of a space are just as important as the concept and content of the work, we find this gives the work an important layer. Ascension facilitates space in the mind and body of the visitor. The entrance and exit via an actual space that we light and fill up with smoke and sound enhances the possibility to create space in the mind and body of the visitor. Ascension helps us travel inward, the outside space works as a layer, or a peel we leave behind to dig deeper, until we reconnect with our own heart and mind. 

The work was originally curated by Living Art Lab in Amsterdam.

Ascension has won the prize for best VR during the Kaboom Animation Festival 2021.

About the makers
Leon Rogissart is a Belgian theatre director who finds an ultimate stage in virtual reality. It gives him the possibility to create a world where spectators can converse with themselves without external stimuli. As Leon Rogissart played the violin since the age of five, music plays a key role in his life and work. It gives him his most potent means to communicate the ineffable.

Paul Boereboom is a scenographer based in Amsterdam. He studied scenography at the Academy of Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam. After having been on stage as a performer Paul decided to question space no longer with his own body but as a designer. His work comprises spatial design, installations and costumes, but also videodesign and work in Virtual Reality. “I have a profound love for tactility and a fascination for designing space with the human body as a starting point. Human behaviour, identity and nature are fascinations that continue to bring up questions I try to explore. I use my work as means to try and grasp these topics and question them. 
*In November 2021 Paul was awarded the Harry Wich Scenography Stipend from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds