On the Spot

A virtual reality theatre experience that immerses viewers in the world of the infamous crime photographer Weegee.

Arthur Fellig, known by his pseudonym Weegee, haunted the crime and fatality scenes of Manhattan to capture a darker side of New York through the lens of his Speed Graphic camera. This was an entirely new photographic genre. These were scenes never previously shot or published.

We used archival records to create a non-linear VR theatre piece about the 1939 murder of gangster David “The Beetle” Beadle, as hauntingly captured in a photograph by Weegee.

Developed with the International Centre of Photography, New York.

Onboarding audio

1. ‘On The Spot’ by Weegee (Arthur Fellig). Thanks to the International Centre of Photography. 2. The same view we created in Unity.

The piece features filmed human actors placed in the virtual scene, triggered by the viewer’s interactions.

We were able to find the exact location where the photograph was taken, and using archival maps and Google Street view, we recreated the precise topology of the intersection. See location.

The work blurs the boundaries between real and virtual, both through the on-boarding process and by tracking the virtual body to a real human that can be touched and moved. 

1. Scanning actors face with physical bullet wound prosthetic. 2.Scanned face in 3ds Max. 3. Shooting cop in 4k against greenscreen.

VR is frequently described as a natural evolution of cinema. ‘On The Spot’ embraces this association with a film-noir aesthetic. The project challenges some of the deterministic language that currently surrounds VR, such as immersion and presence, and the belief that these can provoke empathy.

(Co-Created with Antek Jancelewicz)