Rush Hour is a Virtual Reality experience designed to transport viewers to the streets of Manhattan during the busiest hours of the day. Consisting of 360° video and an audio track of collaged conversations, recorded on the city's streets and in its subways, this narration is intended to be the composite voice of the city, guiding viewers through the crowd and encouraging a sense of identification and empathy with the strangers who pass by.
The structure of New York City -- in which the shared space of the streets and subways demands a physical and psychological connection between otherwise separate lives -- provides endless human interactions. Social hierarchies blur on the city's busy streets but most people are too busy to realize this despite living and working in close proximity to one another. Most New Yorkers are walled off behind busy schedules and digital devices as the demands of the workplace intensify, and personalized technology increases dependence on private communications rather than public contact. A sense of alienation is created rather than one of community.
Originally conceived as a still photography project, Rush Hour demands a more intimate perspective to fully describe the sensation of being totally surrounded while at the same time, feeling isolated. Virtual Reality is a powerful new tool in storytelling, capable of bringing people to places where they otherwise would not be able to go or, in this case, allowing people to notice what they might have otherwise missed. Everything in the VR space is a suggestion, as the camera work is outsourced to the user while the content is defined by the creator. The result is an active viewing experience, using immersive content to make a more personal connection. Rush Hour is not intended as an accusation, but rather as an invitation to a collaboration between the storyteller and the viewer.