Funded by XR Stories, our Surround Stories Lab project aims to widen access to immersive environments. The project will be informed by academics at the University of Leeds. We began this work by undertaking research through Innovate UK’s Audiences of the Future programme, and previous XR Stories research and development funding. This research identified untapped opportunities to utilise fulldome spaces as screening and performance venues for immersive media events. There is an incredibly wide range of possibilities for how this technology can be used, from screening 360-degree films for collective viewing, to live dance and music performances which interact with projected visuals.

A fulldome is an immersive dome-based video projection environment. For most people, visits to planetariums on school trips might be the only chance to experience a fulldome. Stepping into one transports you to a different world. They are awe-inspiring. Until now, full-dome spaces have mainly been used as educational tools, and currently, there aren’t any dedicated to cultural exhibition in England.

The Surround Stories Lab project will focus on the development and exhibition of fulldome content, generating a minimum of four new exhibitions over the next 12 months. The XR Stories funding will enable the development of new story experiences and support a temporary portable fulldome which will be used in various locations throughout Yorkshire. This will allow fulldome artists to explore the implications of fulldome spaces for the first time in the Yorkshire region. We will eventually open England’s first permanent fulldome space dedicated to cultural development and exhibition. This will be one of only three such venues in the world, and the only cultural fulldome space developed through an academic and SME partnership.