How can people use technology to learn about the past mistakes of climate change and plan for a sustainable future? The Miracle Basket is using virtual reality to do just that, giving us a peek into the recent past of humans told through a childhood story. It’s a layered story using a personal tale to talk about environmental issues and political uprisings.

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A VR digital graphic of people gathered

The Miracle Basket is a Dutch VR production that has been selected for The Best of VR at the 79th Venice International Film Festival. The story follows a grandfather camping who tells a story to his grandson of a village in a forest in the past. Indigenous people live there in harmony with nature and each other.

Related: Hollandse Nieuwe crafts a vibrant, eco-friendly workspace with VR

A digital drawing of a hummingbird amidst a forest landscape

Moreover, the user of the VR experience walks through an animated world of color, children and animals. With the arrival of a spaceship, representing the arrival of Western cultures, brand names of logos and lights dump out of the spaceship. Villagers are impressed and adopt a new lifestyle of modern music, dance and consumerism.

You can guess what happens from there. The world becomes a desert of withered plants, no animals and burned out houses. There is no food and harmony left to their world. The villagers stumble on The Miracle Basket while looking desperately for food. It contains enough seeds to start over again.

A digital drawing of a moon with a bonfire

Then, rain washes away the old world and the VR visitor sees a new world emerge where technology, nature and humans work hand in hand to restore harmony. Villagers realize that without the mistakes of the past, they wouldn’t have learned the value of their forest. The story encourages the viewer to consider our impact on the world, but also its value and its future potential.

A digital drawing of a campground

The program was created by visual artist and storyteller Abner Preis, whose stories contain social layers. He says he drew inspiration from fairytales and legends to address modern topics. The idea is to create a hope-punk feel for a situation that seems hopeless. Additionally, to inspire the ability to laugh through sadness, and to draw the viewer into the beauty of the bleak through compositions that play to emotions before aesthetics.

The program was created with HTC Vive Pro with Leap Motion Sensor, produced by Richard Valk of Valk Productions, co-produced by Firat Sezgin at the Institute of Time. You can now see a video of the trailer for The Miracle Basket.

+ The Miracle Basket

Images via The Institute of Time and Valk Productions