The Nightvision Experiment
Craig Griffith, Kevin Moss
On 19 August 2013
Review by Othniel Smith
The Nightvision Experiment is an innovative piece, in form, at least. Told entirely online, it couldn’t have existed at any previous point in history, given the technological resources required to both produce and consume it.
Throughout the hours prior to the show’s presentation, the audience is drip-fed information via Twitter and web links. We are told about a group of high-flying (and, if the photographs are anything to go by, atypically good-looking) young scientists who are making startling breakthroughs in areas of genetic research related to longevity; we learn that there are parties out there who disapprove of their “playing God”; we discover that some of them have mysteriously failed to make a rendezvous.
Come showtime (as we sit at our laptops praying for the wi-fi signal not to let us down) a number of Twitter messages appear on an account with which we have been previously instructed to connect. We learn that the central character, Caroline, who is increasingly concerned about her colleagues, is being sent live video footage which appears to show them in various degrees of distress in dark tunnels underneath the university where they work. There seems to be some inexplicable connection with the Victorian scientist on whose journals their research—something to do with what has been nicknamed “the Death Gene”—has been built…
Co-creators Craig Griffith and Kevin Moss freely admit that The Nightvision Experiment belongs to the sci-fi horror genre; thus there is considerably more running around in the darkness fleeing monstrous noises than philosophical discussion of the implications of prolonging human life beyond its natural span. Some of the dialogue is a little cheesy, and the demands on the viewer are technical rather than intellectual; one is required to keep track of several web-pages at once, and there appear to be issues in terms of synchronising them. This may or may not be clever non-linearity, but it’s slightly distracting.
Nevertheless, the story-telling is effective, on the whole, making good use (in a Blair Witch style) of the inherent creepiness of the night-vision aesthetic, not to mention our perfectly natural fear of the dark, the unseen and the unknown. Those braver than I will have watched, according to the creators’ recommendation, in a darkened room with headphones on, and been suitably chilled (in the old-fashioned sense of the word).
Tickets for future presentations (and further information on the background of the project) are available at nightvisionexperiment.com.