Virtual reality is alive at Orchard ‘playlab’

Entering the VR experience at Jump Into The Light on Orchard St. Photos by Clayton Patterson

BY CLAYTON PATTERSON | My part of the Lower East Side has changed so much I almost get disoriented wandering around in my own ’hood. And I had lost much interest in the new because our politicians sold us out to the concept of an “entertainment zone,” which basically translates into bars, bars and more bars, which did much to destroy the local small independents.

However, I did make a fortunate discovery, when my friend Roman Primitivo Luna pushed me hard enough to get me to enter into a new establishment called Jump Into The Light, at 180 Orchard St., between Stanton and E. Houston Sts.

Max Li with an old-school tintype of L.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson.

I was soon very intrigued with what I found. A friendly, welcoming environment, with a whole new form of leading-edge, mentally and visually interactive computer-generated virtual reality. Put on these special goggles, and you feel you are outside the moment and present place, surrounded in a complete visual-3D environment. You lose all sense of where you are. The experience can be enhanced if there is an audio component.

Jump Into The Light is America’s first “virtual reality cinema and playlab.” They worked with a documentary photographer who was the first to use the 3D camera to capture the Baltimore protests. They are artists working on 3D books. There are VR games and photo studios.

From left, Mehow Skalski, one of the directors of Jump Into The Light, along with Kurtis Ofori, Keith Patchel, Palmer Foote and Philip Baldwin, looking at Patchel’s concept for Plinkout, a computer tool to teach people how to play music.

To counterbalance all this new technology, Max Li, an artist in residence, is a photography historian who makes tintype photographs. In 1853, French scientist Adolphe-Alexandre Martin wrote the first recorded description of the tintype process, and in 1856 Hamilton Smith secured the first American patent. They’re bringing together both ends of the history of photography.

They also have an iPod recording studio for interviews and other programs. And as one would expect, it is mostly a young-person environment, to the point of kids parties.

Palmer Foote, left, and Philip Baldwin in the iPod recording studio.

In the lounge at Jump Into The Light.

Technician Michael Okerson.

Just hangin’ at the new virtual reality theater and playlab.

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