We summoned all the artists with whom we had worked so far in Ireland, Portugal, Wales and Denmark to a seminar in St. David's to lay the foundations for what would later be called Sensory Labyrinth Theatre but at the time we were calling Immersive theatre.
"The ‘immersive arts’ is a term used to describe art that works with the realisation that we create the reality we experience; that life is a ‘picture we paint as we live it.’ The aim of this art is to bring about this realisation in ourselves and others. The word immersive is used to describe how this is a ‘medium’ that immerses its audience in an environment and/or experience which transgresses what is generally ‘known.’
Another quality of the immersive arts, because it is immersive, is that it takes as its canvass nothingness, the latent emptiness of a space bereft of any sensory stimulus. From that point, or as near to that point as physically possible, it builds layer upon layer of sensory stimulus to paint a world that is a prompt for audience members to construct from imagination and memory a world with which they are familiar. It is this process of ‘making familiar’ that the Immersive Arts deconstructs, if not to become aware of this unconscious process at least to receive a few moments reprieve.
The Immersive Arts therefore creates a temporal window from the constant struggle of conscious and unconscious thought to ‘know’ and make safe; so that we can become acquainted once again with the ‘ground of being’. Just as visual arts appeals to sense of sight and music to sense of hearing, the Immersive Arts appeals to this deep sense of belonging in the moment, of connectedness to the universe.
This connectedness is obscured by the flurry of thoughts interpreting data from the conventional five senses that are directed outwards, it can therefore be said that the Immersive Arts aims to direct attention inwards. However, it is not a contemplative medium. The five senses are engaged through artistic use of sense stimuli to create sensory portals. These are moment where a sense stimulus transports a person to another time and place and it is this wormhole in time and space that creates the portal through which the inner sense of connectedness with the ground of being is established.
The Immersive Artists role is not only to create these sensory portals but also to witness and support their audience towards and through the portals and this is why the Immersive Artist needs to be a compassionate person. The root meaning of compassion is ‘willing to suffer with.’ The role of the Immersive Artists is therefore to dream to life these shared moments in space and time where fear and mediocrity can be transformed into awe and wonder and the inner and the outer become one."