When we normally think of story, we think of a string of connected events that move along a curved line. We follow the beginning of the narrative up through rising action to a climax and then falling action to the end or denouement. Story has a beginning, a middle and an end. That ending is usually a fixed fate: no matter how we want our book or movie to end, the ship hits that iceberg, sinks and Jack Dawson still won’t figure out how to fit both of them on that floating hunk of wood.
Observers and the Fourth Wall
This traditional structure of story has been at the core of human experience. From the first storytellers around the communal fire pit through modern film and television, we have traditionally been observers of story rather than true participants. We are separated as observers from the action by what is called the ‘fourth wall’: ‘the conceptual barrier between any fictional work and its viewers or readers.’ This is true not only for stage plays (where the term found its first home) but also for movies, radio and television. We are separated, and in many ways protected, from the story unfolding before us by this invisible wall.
More recently, advances in technology have attempted to challenge the ‘fourth wall’ yet even non-linear computer games and first-person perspectives still have the ‘fourth wall glass’ between you and what is happening.
Shattering the Fourth Wall: Experiential Story in Hyper-Reality
Now, however, for the first time in human history, we have the ability to truly shatter the ‘fourth wall.’ The VOID experience centers the subject inside the story as a participant rather than outside as an observer. This requires pioneering a new approach to narrative in the form of Quantum Story Theory: a principle and practice of Experiential Story first proposed by Chief Creative Officer Curtis Hickman and further developed by Director of Story Development Tracy Hickman.
This new theory, unique to THE VOID, demands that we confront, question and challenge – sometimes painfully –the traditional forms of ‘storytelling.’ Travelers in THE VOID no longer have story told to them: they now have story experienced by them.
THE VOID’s hyper-reality leads us beyond the traditional horizon to a new place of story.
Schrödinger’s Cat: Story Superposition
The Schrödinger’s Cat Thought Experiment tells the story of a rather unfortunate feline who must be both dead and alive at the same time so far as the rest of us pondering its impenetrable box are concerned. This most uncertain condition which may be worrying for the cat is a quantum superposition – a condition wherein the ill-fated kitty is considered both dead and alive simultaneously. It is only by opening the box and directly observing the cat can we know for certain the fate of little Mr. Whiskers.
Normally, the story of the cat – whether that story is that the cat is alive or has died – is determined by the storyteller before the audience hears it. The cat’s fate is already determined by the author. But what if we approached the story itself as a quantum superposition – a story superposition if you will? What if the traveler gets to decide?
The VOID stage defines the physical space within which the virtual world is created. That same space could also define the region within which the story is experienced by the VOID traveler. Placing Quantum Story elements in the three-dimensional space of the stage defines a Narrative Cloud – a four-dimensional superposition of story.
Collapsing Superposition in Story
When the VOID traveler enters the experience, the act of their observing these quantum story elements while moving through the environment collapses this Story Superposition of states. Some of the story quanta are ignored or missed while others are observed and combined. The traveler naturally weaves this set of observed story quanta into a cohesive story – a narrative that is unique to them.
At its heart is the idea that Hyper-Reality is not about story-telling but story-experience – a story that is unique to you when you journey into THE VOID.
The New Horizon
Quantum Story Theory acknowledges that story is at the heart of the human experience. Our observations of the universe around us – often chaotic and complex – are naturally framed into understanding and meaning through the lens of story. What THE VOID achieves through Quantum Story Theory is to break through the separating ‘fourth wall’ glass of observation and permit each of us to discover the unique story of wonder and meaning that comes not from without but from within.