The First AUREA Community Event: Reuniting in the Virtual Black Rock City

The AUREA Community reunited recently for its first event since the 2021 conference on March 12th - this time as their avatars.

We reconvened on the virtual Burning Man Playa for a private tour by 2021 AUREA Award Winners, Athena Demos and Doug Jacobson of Big Rock Creative, who brought the award-winning simulation of Black Rock City into AltspaceVR.

Athena and Doug were excellent hosts for our group of 20 AUREA alumni and friends, including Jury Chair Kathleen Cohen, Jury Secretary and Moderator Clark Parsons, AUREA attendees Chris Bellaci, Maria Courtial (FaberCourtial), Gabriele Romagnoli (GRTalk/iConomy), Fanny Garcia (Hopscotch Interactive), and many others. We first met on Zoom to do a quick tech check and to go over some of the settings that would make our experience more comfortable. This included things like enabling advanced features such as “flying” and personal preferences around audio, teleportation, and field of view - we were going on a ride and we needed to be ready for it!

After meeting in Zoom for that quick check, we rendezvoused in VR. Our tribe met on the Playa and was instructed on how to use the fly tool and other features critical to having the best virtual experience. We got acquainted with the set-up and then began exploring our new world - flying up to set off fireworks and exploring the vast world of Burning Man all connected in the virtual world.

Every time you hovered over another avatar you were surprised and delighted to see your friends as their avatars and to feel that you were all together at the meet-up. In fact, we welcomed AUREA Community members from Europe, the US, and Africa to the event.

We then visited a digital twin of the Marrakesh House, an elaborately themed Los Angeles home and events space (owned by Director Chris Paine), which had been 3D scanned with Matterport and featured a holographic performance by the Harpist who also lives in the home. We also had a bit of a laugh as Felix Styma and Alex Magaard seemed to get stuck in the pool with their avatars for a few minutes - it wouldn’t be VR if something unexpected didn’t happen.

After our soiree under the stars at the Marrakesh House and some virtual bubbly (and bubbles), we found ourselves enjoying two more stops on our moveable immersive feast at Burning Man, one in an ornate temple, and lastly at the Daft Punk stage for some after-party vibes - which was the perfect final stop on our journey for the day.

Whether it was dancing to a virtual DJ, catching-up with our friends from the AUREAs, or chillaxing in the virtual hot tub, Athena and Doug were incredible hosts for our group, and the AUREA spirit was alive and well in the metaverse. As the journey to Burning Man in VR came to a close, we removed our headsets and unmuted ourselves...which meant we found ourselves back on a Zoom call together, but we all felt that we had been somewhere special together - and that was a great feeling too.

Share this article

In partnership with