Close your eyes, sit back, relax, and experience a 360° immersive ambisonic radio show.
Underworld Radio, Volume 1 is the latest creation from MoFE (Museum of Future Experiences.) Originally founded as a pop-up in SoHo in 2019, MoFE has now produced two original shows at its North Brooklyn home, 148 Grand Street, and continues to pioneer immersive sound experiences with the help of some pretty creative folks.
Artistic director Jacqui Rossi; the creator of MoFE David Askaryan; the sound and music producer Andrew Fox; and writers Ethan Hardy and Brandon J. Ortiz all worked together in a highly collaborative capacity to bring Underworld Radio, Volume 1 to life.
Their first show, Liminality, was “an anthology of immersive stories that transports you into the depths of the liminal realm. The show unfolds around you like a dream” (MoFE website), using soundscapes and VR (virtual reality) to bring you into the kaleidoscopic experience.
Underworld Radio, Vol 1, which is running through the end of October, “takes you on a sonic trip to eerie Eden, Florida to experience three mystical swamptown tales of terror” in this hour long, in-person, theatrical escapade.
Sound spine-chilling? Try transcendent.
In the name of innovation, MoFE’s mission is to “play with illusion, to play with perspective, consciousness, and the imagination, all of which are under the umbrella of experiencing something you’ve never done before.”
Upon entering the MoFE lobby, you’ll notice books and artwork that served as inspiration and reference to the designers. Therefore, while there is no visual aspect to the show, you do get a look into the process from the perspective of the creators themselves even before entering.
In the spirit of Halloween, this scary show features three different stories that unfold into a scene via floor to ceiling 360° ambisonic sound, which Rossi describes as “surround sound on steroids.” It’s not for kids, but when I say “scary”, let me clarify:
“A haunting 3D audio experience, Underworld Radio is an immersive radio show broadcasting scary and unsettling stories from the depths of hell and into MoFE. No cheeky jump scares, just good old fashioned heavy metal spooky shit.”
Unique to this particular experience, (even though this show is Halloweenish), everyone experiences the “scary” parts subjectively, because all of the visualization is coming from you. While the storytellers at MoFE are creating 90% of the experience, you are filling that final 10% of visuals with your imagination. As Rossi put it, Underworld Radio, Vol 1 is as visceral as watching a movie (due to the sound effects), and as imaginative as reading a book, and to her, it’s actually quite meditative.
You *can* open your eyes if you so choose, but the show is designed to be experienced with your eyes shut. While the theater is mostly dark, there is a bit of lighting design which utilizes specific wavelengths that can penetrate the eyelid so that you get a little light sensation even with your eyes closed.
*Note: There is some strobe lighting.
With a desire to continue creating new, original work, Rossi said, “We’re really trying to create something new. I’m as nostalgic as anyone, but right now there are so many remakes. Meanwhile, the future is here and it’s demanding that we approach storytelling in a new way. We’ve become more aware than ever before and that awareness with the rise of technology is putting unexpected pressure on us. So this is an opportunity to sit with your eyes closed and quietly and turn inward.”
I had the opportunity to see this production recently, and what a treat. Aside from being steeped in the stories, I was also so curious about what my fellow patrons were picturing during the show. I would be fascinated to see illustrators or animators experience this production and create the images that came to mind to compare the results. MoFE is pioneering a true exploration of the multitude of ways we can absorb art with the current developments in technology, check it out if you have the chance.
Visit MoFE to see Underworld Radio, Vol 1 by the end of October, and demand an extension so that these innovators can keep doing more! Get tickets by clicking here.