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Artist Uses VR to Recreate World’s First Photo Exhibition from 1839

The world’s first major photography exhibition was held back in 1839 when British scientist and photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot held a show to unveil his photo prints to the public. Fast forward nearly 180 years, and now an artist has created Talbot’s first photo show as an immersive virtual reality experience.

Artist Mat Collishaw created the experience called Thresholds at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK. The show is fully immersive through what you see, hear, and even touch.

Everything is found inside a custom-built white room. Before entering, though, you’ll need to strap on an HTC Vive virtual reality headset, headphones, and a backpack. You’re then given 8 minutes to roam around in the virtual photo exhibition, in which what you see and feel actually correspond to the structures found in the white room.

Here’s what the room looks like if you’re not wearing the VR headset:


Thresholds at Somerset House © Richard Eaton

Thresholds at Somerset House © Richard Eaton

And here’s what the room will look like to you when you’re looking into the headset:


Thresholds VR © Graham Carlow

Thresholds VR © Graham Carlow

Thresholds VR © Graham Carlow

Here’s how immersive the experience is: when you walk over to the blazing fireplace in the virtual world, you will actually feel the heat of the flames and coals in the real world.

Up to six people will be roaming the exhibition at any given time, and they’ll show up in the virtual world as ghostly figures to help you avoid bumping into them.

Here’s a 4-minute video that shows what the Thresholds experience is like:

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