Experiencing everything Diwali has to offer here in Australia is hard.
But walk through the streets of India during Diwali and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a surreal alternate universe. Streets are filled with light displays, works of art, music, and dance - festivity is around every corner.
Unfortunately for many of us taking a spur-of-the-moment trip to India isn’t a possibility (or is it?).
So to bring us closer to some of the sights and sounds that make Diwali so special to the Hindu, Jains, Sikh, and Buddhists who celebrate it, SBS VR has launched Tomorrow’s Diwali.
Tomorrow’s Diwali is a virtual reality experience that explores the beauty of Diwali through the power of virtual pyrotechnics, movement, art, and sound.
The experience features the artwork of South African-Indian visual artist, Keroshin Govender. Govender has studied and worked in Sydney since 2009 and finds much of his art is influenced by his Indian and South African heritage.
Using these influences and skills, Tomorrow's Diwali presents Govender physically creating works of visual art before our very eyes. To do this, he uses 3D virtual painting tool, Google Tilt Brush.
"I find digital useful as a technical tool in the planning stages, but in most of my work I find creating something with my hands, something traditional, more rewarding," Govender tells SBS, "which is why this project was quite unusual for me."
The Tilt Brush software affords artists with a world of unique and innovative tools.
Brush strokes transcend the two dimension canvas to cover entire landscapes. Their colour palette is filled with animated pigments which respond to sound and atmosphere.
"It was much more like sculpture than painting," explains Govender. "Because you have to worry about how things look from various angles. Every time you draw a stroke you're not just worrying about which way your hand’s moving left and right, you’re also worried about how far back and forth it's moving, too."
Scoring Govender’s movements and brushstrokes are the innocent and sometimes cheeky words of young Indian Australian children sharing what Diwali means to them.
For Govender, who grew up in what he describes as a very insular Indian community, Diwali has always been a large-scale event filled with community, colour, food, and fireworks. He hopes he brings those experiences through in this VR project.
"Everyone in South Africa knows what Diwali is about, whereas people here I've found may have just heard of it," he says.
"So hopefully projects like Tomorrow's Diwali will bring more awareness to it. Because it’s not really a religious ceremony. Some of us don’t celebrate it that way. It’s more like a community festival. It’s something that anybody can be involved in."
Download the free SBS VR app here for iOS and here for Android.