Melbourne: A new virtual reality exhibit in Melbourne lets people experience what it’s like to die, sparking mixed reactions.
A new exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, is giving people the opportunity to experience what it may be like to die through virtual reality (VR) simulation. The Passing Electrical Storms exhibit by Shaun Gladwell features an “extended reality” experience that takes participants through a simulated de-escalation of life, from cardiac arrest to brain death. The VR experience also includes an out-of-body component, allowing participants to see themselves in the goggles.
While some find the experience intriguing, others have expressed concern about its potential psychological impact.
One TikTok user who went through the experience explained that participants are laid down and the bed vibrates before they flatline. As part of the VR experience, participants are lifted upwards and appear to float past the doctors into space. They are equipped with a heart rate monitor and can end the simulation at any point by raising their hand if they feel too overwhelmed.
The exhibit has garnered mixed reactions, but it provides an opportunity for reflection on the inevitable and raises questions about what happens when we die. It is part of the Melbourne Now event and is open to the public.
There are other virtual reality experiences similar to this one. Another VR simulation allows people to experience a virtual recreation of a “suicide machine.” It’s important to note, however, that the VR death simulation is only an experience and is not like the VR headset that could kill a person if they died in their game.
The exhibit comes at a time when discussions around end-of-life care and death are becoming more commonplace. While some may find the experience unsettling, it may also help individuals to confront and process their feelings around mortality.