Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Texas Immersive ‘Elysian Heights’ Exhibition touches on what it means to be a member of society

Mason Rouser
A member of the Texas Immersive Institute acts as part of the interactive experience Elysian Heights on Saturday.

From April 11-13, Texas Immersive showcased the collaborative efforts of over 30 students that came after a year of planning and development. The event was held at the dadaLab in East Austin and lasted about an hour for each ticketed show. Guests were placed in a large room with three different exhibits opposite a large projector screen that narrated the experience. 

The immersive exhibition “Elysian Heights” showcased a fictional city brought to prosperity by an AI ruler named O.S. Visitors were invited to an expo by O.S. to see how he maximized prosperity, but a character named Ella hacks into the system to warn the visitors about what O.S. has done. The visitors then traverse through the exhibits that showcase how O.S. has changed parts of society. 

Advertising graduate student and writing lead Adrian Gonzalez said he got involved with Texas Immersive after learning how the program could be combined with his studies. 

“In the advertising program, there’s a few different tracks to choose from … (including) this Immersive track,” Gonzalez said. “It’s very multidisciplinary. I think recently advertising students are starting to realize it’s actually super beneficial to go that route.” 

Gonzalez said that one of the most challenging aspects of working on “Elysian Heights” was trying to combine the perspectives and ideas of more than two dozen students. 

“It was such an ambitious project,” Gonzalez said. “People had to step up and do things that they were not experienced in. … We’re all new to this. No matter what your skill was, we were all coming to this never having done something quite like this.” 

With the exhibition debuting on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Texas Immersive founding director Erin Reilly said that the best moment of the experience is getting to watch the students share their projects with the public. 

“The best moment for me is when they have that ‘aha’ moment that they’ve achieved something; it’s a huge lift,” Reilly said. “It’s the most joyous moment for me when it all comes together and they have that praise from the public, which a lot of students don’t get.” 

Additionally, design junior Demi Hu echoed these thoughts by sharing her experience at the first show. 

“We did have some technical issues. So we were all scrambling and trying to get things together. But the fact that we had done a complete show from start to finish was just so crazy,” Hu said. “I think when we finished that show we were like, ‘Oh, we got this. This is totally working.’ … And that was really exciting.” 

Overall, the “Elysian Heights” exhibit touched on themes about society including our relationship with work habits, creativity, artificial intelligence and even how we interact with other members of society. Hu said that the exhibit reflects a broader message about society. 

“Society at its core is about human connection. You can’t have a society without the people that build it,” Hu said. “You can’t have the bigger and better without the care and compassion for your fellow members of society.”

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