The first thing you notice is the smell: the earthy humus of the forest floor. No, it’s the tree roots that you see first, covered in green moss, tangled and rising to a massive trunk of a giant sequoia tree. Wait, it’s the wind soughing through the leaves — or is that the sound of your own breath?
All of your senses are engaged in this imaginative virtual reality experience at London’s Saatchi Gallery called “We Live in an Ocean of Air” (through May 5). It’s a brain-tickling immersion into a redwood forest, where you explore the outside — and inside — the trunk of a giant sequoia tree, while inhaling forest scents and listening to a rainstorm. You are an integral piece of the experience, as your breath becomes visible blue bubbles that you can wave around with your hand as they turn red, part of the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between you and the virtual natural world. The 20-minute installation, conceived and built by the creative collective Marshmallow Laser Feast, brings together technology, art and environmental activism in one fascinating journey.