Contained within an unassuming black, and silver trailer emblazoned with the logo for Dark Labyrinth Entertainment resides an interactive, surreal entertainment experience unique to the Buffalo entertainment landscape.
Shadowscape is the creation of Dark Labyrinth founder Mike Raisch. What started as a youthful fascination with haunted houses has evolved for Raisch into a personal exploration into what is possible when you combine technology, with sensory deprivation, and some clever psychological trickery.
“We’re creating a 3D Audio Sensory Experience, which sounds like a mouthful of nothing, but only because no one else is really doing it,” explained Raisch after I had the opportunity to experience Shadowscape for myself. “We’ve been doing this for three and a half years now, and this is our seventh project. However it is the first time we’ve put it in a trailer. It’s like bringing a Disney ride to your private party.”
In short, Shadowscape presents the user with an alternate perspective within an enclosed environment. Immersed into sightlessness, while securely strapped into the ride seat, and wearing headphones, Shadowscape takes you through a suspenseful, and unpredictable story line within which sound, motion, and physical connection to the environment dominates the sensory input.
Raisch described the concept behind Shadowscape, and why it works to create a unique experience.
“At least 80% or more of the information we receive on a daily basis is based on our sense of sight. We remove the sense of sight and suddenly you’re forced to pay attention to the rest of your senses which is where this becomes surreal. Because you can’t see anything, there goes 80% of the information you get all the time. Now you can feel the hair standing up on the back of your neck, you can feel the sweat dripping down, you can now smell the leather of the seats, the other senses are coming alive by putting you in the dark.”
As a past contributor to haunted houses, and other shows, Raisch is no stranger to creating interactive entertainment. Past projects included “Project Z” in which users were thrust into an environment where they had to save the world from a zombie attack, and Bust-a-Buffoon, where users had to face the wheel of fear as Jasper the evil clown manifests their fears from the darkness.
“After doing these for so long, I feel we’ve landed on an experience that is kind of like a template,” says Raisch in discussing his future plans to continue evolving Shadowscape, and his projects, “Instead of having to build up, and tear down every time, we have something that is flexible, and where we can interchange the story line to create different experiences, and multiple experiences all within the confines of the same trailer.”
After having overcome so many challenges making Shadowscape, and fine-tuning it, Raisch recognizes all of the details matter when perfecting his art.
“The technology that runs this was probably the biggest learning curve. I have to make it completely dark, 100% dark, otherwise the sensory deprivation doesn’t work. It uses a projector, and projectors still let out a little light even when they’re not showing video, so I had to create a trap door to cover the projector opening, but have it open when needed. It’s silly how complicated even the littlest things are.”
With a number of rentals of Shadowscape already under his belt, Raisch future plans include creating new story lines, and possibly franchising the trailer design, and business model.
“I would to get into the artist kind of niche and go to shows, because really it’s an art installation, it’s an experiential art piece. You can go to a gallery but this is more immersive.”
Shadowscape is part of the Dark Labyrinth Entertainment product offering, and is available to rent for parties, weddings, and corporate events. Follow Dark Labyrinth on Facebook at www.facebook.com/darklabyrinthentertainment