Many Worlds. Different Endings
Artist Alexis Kirke has written and directed a film that can have one of four potential endings, chosen based on biosensor data coming from members of the audience.
The 15-minute story — called Many Worlds — centres around two students Charlie and Olivia who go to their friend Connie’s house for her 19th birthday. They find a sealed, coffin-sized box in her bedroom with no sign of their friend. It appears as though Connie, a physics student, has sealed herself into the box with a cyanide gas-capsule connected to a Geiger counter. At any point a burst of cosmic rays in the atmosphere could trigger the cyanide and kill Connie; in fact it could have already happened.
Members of the audience wear sensors to measure perspiration, muscle tension, heart rate and brainwave activity. Then the film adjusts depending on the levels of excitement detected by the sensors — if the audience is calm, then they are given a more dramatic scene, and if they are already very tense or nervous, then they might be shown a calmer scene. The action branches at a number of different points to eventually deliver one of four alternative endings.
I have my doubts that film makers or audiences – perhaps to a lesser extent – would embrace this technology, however. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for technological advances improving our enjoyment of cultural events, but for me, a film must be a product of its director’s vision, not mine.
There’s a big difference between a DJ reading a crowd and changing things up or down to impact a crowd, say, to a film trying to second guess it’s audiences next emotions and reacting against or with them. Surely, the best movies are the ones that have the audience second-guessing where their emotions will be taken next?
In any case, these “interactive and intelligently reactive movie experiences” already exist, of course: they’re called video games.