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Stepping into a virtual world . . . Visual artist Don Paterson helps Jayekib den Dulk into the VR helmet at Dr Kano's Fantastic Flight in Oamaru. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

A “totally immersive audio-visual experience” is how artist Don Paterson describes his latest creative undertaking – “Dr Kano’s Fantastic Flight”.

In the Victorian precinct, the new audio-visual creation by the renowned Oamaru-based artist delves into the world of Virtual Reality (VR).

Paterson and former Oamaru animator and visual artist Jack Grenfell decided 12 months ago to take their love for steampunk to a new level and push the boundaries of immersive entertainment offered by the latest VR technology.

Paterson said donning the VR headset would take customers on a journey through virtual space. Then, using the artists’ latest visual creation which was launched last week, there was a high-speed run through their imagination.

It took the pair more than 12 months and $100,000 to realise their dream, and the reactions of visitors to the new attraction have been diverse.

“Some have become hysterically involved, and on others you can see the knuckles as they get right into the experience,” Paterson said.

“All say it was good but the adrenaline junkies seem to want more.”

The headset takes viewers into a virtual world. Wherever they look, they see something totally different, above, beside and under their seat.

Aboard a virtual train, viewers are transported through time and space as they flow through a variety of audio-visual experiences that are a mixture of rooms and locations filled with geometric shapes, and outer space.

The latest addition starts in Harbour St before entering a world of deserts in a homage to the designers’ love for steampunk, and travelling at speed along impossible ramps and through huge skulls.

As an immersive visual experience, it is very different from using a television or computer screen in the two-dimensional gaming world.

“We even painted the room you sit in to resemble the confined space you finish up in.”

Paterson plans to offer the project to other tourism centres as it is customisable for wherever it is.

He is soon moving to Akaroa to concentrate on his art practice.

“I have six or seven major civic works to do over the next two to three years and I will soon finish the railway station project,

“We are almost done there – just a few firewalls to be installed there before I move on at the end of the year.”