Virtual Reality

Son of Man

An immersive and interactive VR experience based on Rene Magritte’s painting ‘The Son of Man’.

Value Proposition

Paintings have a limited amount of interactive possibilities because they are restrained to two dimensions. We created an interactive Virtual Reality experience where individuals can be inside a painting.

VR Experience Overview

This experience was mapped on Oculus DK2 with Razor Hydra controller. The user starts our experience in middle of a 30ft radius round circle, which is filled with sand. The ground is enclosed by high wall, which runs on the outskirt of the round circle. The man in black stands at a distance  from the user . There is a floating apple in front of the man at a distance of 2ft. Outside the wall is an ocean and everything beyond and up top is covered with the sky. The user can walk within the confined circle and use hydra trigger control to grab or drop the apple.

There are three scenarios that a user can experience after grabbing and dropping an apple. Each scenario starts with the wall growing higher and dispatching from the ground. As the wall flies upwards towards the sky a new wall appears on the side of the enclosed space. In the first scenario sky texture changes, mist starts to appear and everything is hard to see. In the second scenario water level starts rising, covers the sand ground and then lowers down. Third scenario has a huge man appear behind the man in black, sunlight starts to shift and random shadows can be seen on the ground.

My Role

I was the Project Manager and Lead UX Designer where I worked on project scope, timeline, work allocation, value proposition, research, concept design, user testing, presentations and documentation. This was my first VR project where our team could have decided on any medium but we were a curious bunch so we went with something none of us had worked on before.

Environment concept design from top down view in VR

Environment Design

Considering the limitations that VR comes with, having a constrained space was core for our environment. We wanted to bound the user as much as possible in a limited space. For that reason we created an enclosed loop surrounded with a wall. Multiple tests were performed to made the space the right size for the user.

Concept environment with a POV frame.

Previsualization of how the user will experience the frames.

User Flow

We had multiple scenarios planned for the user experience and we wanted to keep it as surreal as possible to contrast with the originality of the painting we transformed. Each scenario was triggered through an interaction or it self triggered after a min long wait.

Interaction Design

We experimented with 3 different technologies and performed multiple user tests to make the interaction as seamless as possible in a virtual environment. We used MYO band, Razor Hydra and Wiimote. For interaction design we did behavioural, A/B and prototype tests to make the experience user centric.


We defined the scope of the based on our team skills and how far we wanted to take the new tech challenge. We used work timeline to keep a track of workflow, created sprint board to monitor individual task, performed daily scrum meeting and continued with everyday research around our concept, design and technology.


We were the first team at the Centre for Digital Media to have worked on a VR project and delivered a really engaging and immersive experience for users. Our average play time was 4 mins and 22 secs based on 45 users. Everyone finished the experience with over 90% users found interaction affordance in the Son of Man experience.

BehanceUser FlowConcept Map