Who you gonna call to fill the Ghost­busters Void?

China’s clas­si­cal mu­sic scene in good hands

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page - Chris New­bould Saeed Saeed

The lat­est at­trac­tion at JBR’s The Beach promises users a “hyper- re­al­ity” ex­pe­ri­ence, based on the pop­u­lar ad­ven­tures of those fear­less film favourite Ghost­busters.

Straight out of New York – the home of The Void – the Dubai branch is the first Void lo­ca­tion out­side the United States. We weren’t quite sure what hyper-re­al­ity was, so we headed out to road test The Void, which of­fi­cially opened last Fri­day. We were not the only ones cu­ri­ous about it – there were crowds of beach­go­ers gath­er­ing around the closed venue as the Ghost­busters theme tune rang out.

While the re­cent Ghost­busters movie re­boot may not have drawn the crowds, it seems an in­ter­ac­tive en­counter with some of its orig­i­nal spir­its and mon­sters, in­clud­ing Slimer and The Stay Puft Marsh­mal­low man, just might.

On en­ter­ing, you’re shown a brief safety video be­fore be­ing strapped into a vest, given a hel­met and en­trusted with a blaster (a pro­ton gun, neu­trona wand or par­ti­cle thrower to use Ghost­buster’s lan­guage).

“You’ll see three colours on your blaster – red, or­ange and green,” our in­struc­tor ad­vised. “When it’s red, you can’t shoot be­cause you don’t need to. When it goes green, just de­stroy every­thing.”

With that, we’re ready to go, and as our vi­sors came down every­thing starts to make sense.

Sud­denly, my suit and T-shirt­clad team mem­bers are gone and I’m sur­rounded by fully kit­ted- out Ghost­busters, their moves all cor­re­spond­ing to my team­mates.

At its heart, this is a mul­ti­player VR video game but here the phys­i­cal in­ter­acts with the vir­tual. There are cold winds, smells and rain­drops and many parts of the set you see in your head­set can ac­tu­ally be touched – or held if needed.

That was the re­as­sur­ing dis­cov­ery I made when I found my­self on scaf­fold­ing high above the New York streets while zap­ping gar­goyles. As some­one not too com­fort­able with heights, I held on tight to the struc­ture be­cause even though I was log­i­cally aware I was merely at sea level, wear­ing a head­set, the view from the ‘precipice’ was gut churn­ing.

I found the VR ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle dis­ori­ent­ing. If you’ve tried VR be­fore, you prob­a­bly know whether it af­fects you or not. The ac­tual VR part of the ex­pe­ri­ence lasts just un­der 10 min­utes and the woozi­ness does set­tle down so I’d cer­tainly go back.

This Ghost­busters ex­pe­ri­ence was de­vel­oped with the film’s cre­ator Ivan Reit­man and The Void’s CEO is former Lu­cas­film tech­nol­o­gist Chris Plumer, so the at­trac­tion has pedi­gree. Plumer told the New York Times last month: “I have seen a lot of great VR ex­pe­ri­ences, and noth­ing comes close to what the Void is do­ing. If any­thing is go- ing to in­spire mass con­sumer adop­tion of vir­tual re­al­ity, this is it.”

The Void Ghost­busters: Di­men­sion is open 10am till 10pm on week­days and 10am till 12am on week­ends. Tick­ets cost Dh110 from www.thevoid.com or in per­son at The Void, The Beach, JBR (close to Roxy Cin­e­mas). Vis­i­tors should be at least 1.2 me­tres tall and 10 years of age due to the weight of equip­ment and mildly scary se­quences. The Void can ac­com­mo­date groups of one to four.

Since its for­ma­tion in 2010, the house orches­tra for China’s Na­tional Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts has pri­mar­ily func­tioned as a sup­port for vis­it­ing mae­stros and bal­lets to the venue. But for the past four years it has been mak­ing a name for it­self in its own right. With mem­bers aged be­tween 27 and 31, the NCPA orches­tra is seen as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of China’s fu­ture in clas­si­cal mu­sic.

This was un­der­scored on Fri­day at Emi­rates Palace at the first of their two Abu Dhabi Fes­ti­val per­for­mances.

The young orches­tra’s re­la­tion­ship with con­duc­tor Yi Zhang, also the chief con­duc­tor of the Na­tional Bal­let of China, can be best de­scribed as parental. Zhang did a fine job in show­cas­ing the en­sem­ble’s dy­namism in Tchaikovsky’s Slavonic March.

Laced with a quasi eastern melody, the piece re­quired the full at­ten­tion of all with its con­trast­ing moods; from brass heavy pomp to the strings sound­ing like a mil­i­tary march.

Haochen Zhang’s star shone with Rach­mani­nov’s Pi­ano Con­certo No.2. The piece was an apt show­case for the 25- year- old, with its var­ied tem­pos and shift in em­pha­sis for phys­i­cal vir­tu­os­ity to re­strained sen­si­tiv­ity – Zhang’s in­ter­play with flute was par­tic­u­larly gor­geous.

The Abu Dhabi Fes­ti­val theme of tol­er­ance was ex­plored in the fi­nal piece of the night, Dvorák Sym­phony No 9. One can per­haps view this piece as one of the ear­lier ex­am­ples of mu­si­cal fu­sion, with the ex­plo­ration of var­i­ous tra­di­tions, from Na­tive Amer­i­can folk to African-Amer­ica rit­u­als.

The orches­tra do a fine job in high­light­ing Dvorák themes of mem­ory and dreams. Key melodic lines from the first move­ment re­turn spo­rad­i­cally, but each time ex­plored dif­fer­ently – some brighter and oth­ers more omi­nous. It all added up to cre­ate a woozy and al­most sur­real at­mos­phere.

sasaeed@then­ational.ae

Cour­tesy The Void.

There’s some­thing strange in the neigh­bour­hood.

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