Songs for a Passerby

XR Performance | Immersive Tech Week

A VR opera by Celine Daemen about our tenuous relationship with the transitory nature of reality 

How does one relate to a world of things that are passing? Are we a part of it? Or are we just looking at it? And what about the body – is it something that we are or that we have? 
There is an ambivalence here that prompts the question: could this be the origin of all melancholy? 
In Songs for a Passerby you will autonomously walk through a musical dreamscape shown in a VR headset. You are following your own 3D mirror image and on the way you will pass by various scenes: a dying horse, a choir of murmuring people, two playing dogs. 
Songs for a Passerby is a meditative quest that allows you to step outside reality for a moment and look at yourself. As a puppeteer of your own body you will be entering a poetic space where the melancholy question arises: is this me passing by moments, or is it rather the moments passing by me? 
Director Celine Daemen: "By placing spectators outside themselves and showing them the contours of their own 'self' through capture with live 3D cameras, I aim to create an experience that touches on a familiar sense of melancholy, wherein we are no longer at one with the world, but in some ways are opposite to it. As the poet Reiner Maria Rilke wrote: "Dieses heißt Schicksal: gegenüber sein und nichts als das und immer gegenüber". ("This is what fate means: to be opposite, and to be that and nothing else, opposite, forever.") 
In Songs for a Passerby I have attempted to create an experience that investigates the connection between the physical and the metaphysical world. You are both a body that is moving through space and a mind that is looking at it. While the unavoidable passing of time makes itself manifest to you, all past moments will remain present, entering into a simultaneous existence. You are both in the world and simultaneously outside it." 


Celine Daemen direction | Aron Fels VR art direction | Asa Horvitz music & sound compostion | Olivier Herter liberetto |  Wouter Snoei sound & mix