Each of our co-founders has taken a different journey to discovering THE VOID. Sixteen years ago, James Jensen dreamed of mapping digital worlds over physical spaces; while Ken Bretschneider found his way through his passion for haunts and immersive entertainment.
Now it’s time to hear from our chief creative officer Curtis Hickman…
When I was six years old I was obsessed with theme parks. I would in fact, build miniature versions of these parks in my room and at times even charge admission. I had haunted attractions, Wonka-esk candy filled lands, and the much acclaimed “Softy-ofty-lofty-land” (a veritable explosion of pillow forts and blankets). One day my mother, being the wonderfully encouraging woman she is, suggested that I design a full park that I could one day build. The idea sounded both challenging and wonderful. I ran and grabbed some paper and immediately began to sketch out “Lion-o land” whose mascot was… well, a lion (I was clearly a very imaginative child).
As I began the monumental task of designing a world-class theme park I, as one would expect, put most of my energy into imaging the attractions that would delight my future guests. After a few clear Disney rip-offs, I came up with something I thought would be perfect for my park — a holodeck. You see, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had begun its first season earlier that year, and this magical room was something I wanted for myself as much as I wanted anything in this world.
For the uninitiated, a holodeck was basically a room that (through the manipulation of force fields, light, and temporary matter) generates endless realities the crew of the Enterprise could explore. It also broke down on occasion, threatening the lives of everyone on the ship, it was cool. But I had a big problem; even six-year-old Curtis knew that the holodeck was technology that wasn’t even close to existing.
I took my problem to my mother who said, “Don’t let that stop you, by the time you are older they might exist. You should just plan for it now.” This concept blew my mind, but I still had my doubts. Nevertheless, I put one in the middle of Lion-o Land. Then I started thinking. “If I can do anything in a holodeck… why do I need these other attractions?” So I erased the other attractions and filled my park with holodecks. I wouldn’t need anything else. I would have a virtual theme park. A park people could go into and play in new worlds, as themselves, or even pretending to be others.
But we weren’t the first to dream of creating immersive experiences.
The year I was born, the book “Dream Park” came out about an immersive theme park that would use elaborate holograms to achieve its many illusions. It was a place that used advanced technology to create immersive realities. Eight years before that, “Westworld” was released and 38 years before that, “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” was written.
In fact, over a hundred years before that “Panoramic Paintings” were being set up where visitors could pay as much as three shillings to stand under a skylight (which offered an even lighting) in the middle of a central platform, to get an immersive feeling of being at the event depicted on the surrounding painting.
I could go back further… but you get the point.
How did you come up with the VOID? What sparked the invention of this amazing thing? They are popular questions that we get asked a lot. So let me be blunt. We didn’t invent the VOID. It was there – alone in the dark. We named it, grabbed it by the hand, and led it into the light.
Curtis Hickman is the co-founder, chief creative officer and president of VOID studios. As an award winning magician, specializing in mystery and miracle, he is one of the select few designers who developed theatrical illusions for top-ranked magicians such as David Copperfield and Criss Angel.