Last Christmas holiday I bought the book “The mysterious stranger” by Mark Twain in a second hand store in Wroclaw, Poland. The story is about three boys living in a Austrian village in 1590. A mysterious stranger visits the boys. The stranger turns out to be Satan. In the middle of the book Satan takes the boys on a journey through the violent history of the “progress” of the human race. Satan mainly focuses on violent events and stories from the Bible. Although this piece is written more than a hundred years ago, it feels as if Satan takes the boys on a VR-experience. I thought that was really and I knew I wanted to something with this. Unfortunately I am not (yet) skilled enough to make a very realistic experience. That is why I decided to make a VR-tour in a museum and to work with 2D-images (mostly paintings) and the actual text. The tour starts where it ends: in the Austrian woods in 1590. Right before the boys are about to see the future they fall into a hole which brings them back to their own time. I had several problems in doing this project. I tried to turn the 2D images into 3D-objects, but this didn’t really work the way I hoped. I am not extremely excited with the end result. I still really like the idea, but I think the end result could have been a bit more interesting and challenging. I am planning on continuing working on this project when I have time.
Text from “The mysterious stranger” by Mark Twain Published 1995 by Prometheus Books Twain, Mark, 1835 – 1910 The mysterious stranger / Mark Twain Originally published Harper & Brothers, 1916 One day, a little while after this, Satan appeared again. We were always watching out for him, for life was never very stagnant when he was by. He came upon us at that place in the woods where we had first met him. Being boys, we wanted to be entertained; we asked him to do a show for us.
“Very well,’’ he said. “Would you like to see a history of the progress of the human race? – its development of that product which is called civilization?” We said we should.
So, with a thought, he turned the place into the Garden of Eden, and we saw Abel praying by his altar; then Cain came walking toward him with his club, and did not seem to see us, and would have stepped on my foot if I had not drawn it in. He spoke to his brother in a language which we did not understand; then he grew violent and threatening, and we knew what was going to happen, and turned away our heads for the moment; but we heard the crash of the blows and heard the shrieks and the groans; then there was silence, and we saw Abel lying in his blood and gasping out his life, and Cain standing over him and looking down on down at him, vengeful and unrepentant.
Then the vision vanished, and was followed by a long series of unknown wars, murders, and massacres. Next we had the Flood, and the Ark tossing around in the stormy waters, with lofty mountains in the distance showing veiled and dim through the rain. Satan said: “The progress of your race was not satisfactory. It is to have another chance now.” The scene changed, and we saw Noah overcome with wine. Next, we had Sodom and Gomorrah, and “the attempt to discover two or three respectable persons there,” as Satan described it. Next, Lot and his daughters in the cave. Next came the Hebraic wars, and we saw the victors massacre the survivors and their cattle, and save the young girls alive and distribute them around. Next we had Jael; and saw her slip into the tent and drive the nail into the temple of her sleeping guest; and we were so close that when the blood gushed out it trickled in a little, red stream to our feet, and we could have stained our hands in it if we had wanted to. Next we had Egyptian wars, Greek wars, Roman wars, hideous drenchings of the earth with blood; and we saw the treacheries of the Romans toward the Carthaginians, and the sickening spectacle of the massacre of those brave people. Also we saw Caesar invade Britain – “not that those barbarians had done him any harm, but because he wanted their land, and desired to confer the blessings of civilization upon their widows and orphans,’’ as Satan explained. Next, Christianity was born. Then ages of Europe passed in review before us, and we saw Christianity and Civilization march hand in hand through those ages, “leaving famine and death and desolation in their wake, and other signs of the progress of the human race,” as Satan observed. And always we had wars, and more wars, and still other wars – all over Europe, all over the world. “Sometimes in the private interest of royal families,” Satan said, “sometimes to crush a weak nation; but never a war started by the aggressor for any clean purpose – there is no such war in the history of the race.” “Now,” said Satan, “you have seen your progress down to the present, and you must confess that it is wonderful – in its way. We must now exhibit the future.” He showed us slaughters more terrible in their destruction of life, more devastating in their engines of war, than any we had seen.