Multi-sensory XR experience ‘Symbiosis’ makes US debut at Portland Art Museum

September 15, 2022 – PAM CUT // Center for an Untold Futurethe Portland Museum of ArtThe film and new media arm of, recently announced the US launch of “Symbiosis”, a multi-sensory extended reality (XR) storytelling experience. The multi-user performative installation takes the art of immersive storytelling to a whole new level.

Through individualized haptic combinations and soft robotics, as well as taste and smell-based story elements, the experience brings the human body together with technology and nature. Gathered in a virtual reality (VR) experience for six participants, participants can explore an immersive world where they can taste, hear, see and feel different elements.

Participants explore a strange virtual world in Symbiosis.

The latest from Dutch experience design collective Polymorf of directors Marcel van Brakel and Mark Meeuwenoord, in partnership with Studio Biarritz, the XR Experience will transport participants 200 years into the future where a rich biosphere of mixed life forms has invaded the earth: human-animal and man-machine hybrids.

In a performative installation allowing each participant to embody one of these symbiotic lifeforms, they will use the five senses to transform into entirely new beings and envision a post-human world where there is no competition. , only a symbiosis.

Symbiosis features individualized haptic combinations and soft robotics that are unique for each different perspective within the experience.

“Polymorf’s experimental and immersive works, and their clever use of scent in particular, have blown me away for years,” said PAM CUT Director Amy Dotson. “Symbiosis is the kind of transformational interactive storytelling that truly reflects who we are and what we want to do with artists and partners. We’re so excited they trusted us for the US premiere and can’t wait for our audience to snuggle up in their haptic suits, don their VR goggles, and journey into this brave new world of storytelling with us.

In Symbiosis, the participant is both spectator and performer. There are different character experiences that describe a specific human-animal or human-technological relationship. By choosing one of the stories, the participant selects a character and a role in the overall world of the story. All participants play a different symbiotic role in each individual’s life.

Each experience is accompanied by a uniquely designed soft robotic suit that manipulates the wearer’s body, transforming their posture and sensory perception of the Symbiosis world. VR sensors attached to each suit reveal a post-human body and allow participants to play and move around the Symbiosis world. VR headsets are also equipped with olfactory fixtures that emit specially designed aromas that are released in sync with each specific experience.

The experiment involves participants sampling real food in conjunction with a virtual food ritual.

Moreover, the experience combines virtual and real food, and a series of specially designed snacks give virtual food unexpected taste sensations. The vegetarian snacks that are part of the experience will be designed by master chefs, according to PAM.

The symbiosis will take place at the Center for an Untold Tomorrow gallery and headquarters adjacent to the museum in downtown Portland, Oregon. PAM CUT staff will monitor and assist participants throughout the experience. Each session lasts approximately 45 minutes and up to six people can participate at a time.

Tickets cost USD 30 per participant. Tickets for the Portland Museum of Art and PAM CUT members are $25. For more information on the Symbiosis XR experience, click here.

Image/video credit: PAM CUT // Center for an Untold Tomorrow / Vimeo

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the founder and editor-in-chief of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for five years.

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