With the world of virtual reality coming on in leaps and bounds, it is clear that the future is well and truly here. Using technology, you can place yourself anywhere in the world. Over the coming days The Old Market in Hove will be playing host to a VR event that will allow for just this. The team behind the VR Parlour will be setting up a host of virtual experiences and Jamie Walker spoke to TOMtech development manager James Turnbull about it.

Tell us about the VR Parlour?

TOMtech is our future focused programme here at The Old Market.

We are excited by the possibilities that immersive technology can add to our cultural offer in the city.

Brighton is a UK hub of virtual reality with some of the most exciting companies working in the medium based here.

Running during Brighton Digital Festival each year, we host some of the finest experiences for our audiences that showcase the best VR currently available.

VR Parlour brings together three of those pieces in one event.

Where did the idea to do this come from, initially?

The VR Parlour has grown out of our vrLAB, our four-day expo event.

It’s a great place to try new technology with your mates but these three pieces required a more controlled experience to see them in the right context.

The parlour is a gentle journey through three pieces of VR that will make you think.

How have you seen it grow over the four years?

The technology that can augment or change our view of reality is here.

While the headsets are bulky and connected to big computers at the moment, this won’t be the case in a few years’ time.

How will we adjust to this new layered reality? With Facebook and other multi nationals leading the charge we think it is important that artists also work out this new technology so it is useful beyond advertising.

From humble beginnings in 2014, you can see the growth of VR in the city. In this Brighton Digital Festival there are great programmes at the Attenborough Centre, Lighthouse, Phoenix and here.

Do you think that VR is the way forward for experiences like this?

There are some things you can only do in VR, such as sit opposite David Attenborough.

It’s a completely different experience to watching a TV show, what you get is a real sense of presence.

It’s hard to describe to those who haven’t tried it.

All we can say is to come and try it.

Would you say it is the most immersive experience you can have without being there?

The major show we are bringing over this year is Doom Room, by Copenhagen’s creative collective Makropol.

In the experience, you transcend your physical body and question your identity. It’s not a gentle ride but it was unlike anything I’ve every experienced.

By the end it you truly question where you are.

Tell us about the events that are part of the parlour this year?

HOLD THE WORLD: Sit opposite Sir David Attenborough in the archives of the Natural History Museum as he talks you though some of their prize artefacts. What’s remarkable about this work is how the creators scanned both Sir David and the collection with incredible 3D technology. It really feels like he is sat opposite you, giving you a personal lesson.

EMPIRE SOLDIERS: UK-based theatre company, Metro Boulot Dodo have created two VR pieces that tell the story of Caribbean and South Asian British nationals that came to support the war effort. The story parallels the racism they experienced back in 1918 to modern day Britain.

IS ANNA OKAY?: Bringing together the BBC and Aardman Studios (of Wallace and Gromit fame) this is a remarkable VR experience that uses illustration to tell two sides of the same event, the story of two young sisters whose lives were torn apart one day. You only get to see one side of the story, so you have to talk with other audience members to draw the whole picture.

Who did you work in collaboration with to make this come together?

Each year, we tour the UK and oversees to find the best experiences to bring to the city.

This year we have a lot of work that premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest, the UK’s leading documentary film festival.

We work closing with the games industry in Brighton too, particularly a brilliant company called Make Real.

How big is it having David Attenborough as part of your showcase this year?

Everyone loves Sir David.

We are overjoyed to show Hold The World here for ten days. We are one of the first venues to host it.

It really is a remarkable experience.

When I first saw it, I didn’t stop smiling throughout.

So finally, why is the VR Parlour at TOM the event to get to?

VR Parlour gives you a curated path through three VR experiences.

Each session is limited to just eight people, so it’s a brilliant way to discover VR with plenty of help from our staff to help you through.

We hope through the four different VR events we are hosting this year, that there is truly something for everyone.