Virtual reality adds an immersive power to video that has the ability to transport us to places we could only imagine setting foot in. For Seattleites who are fortunate enough to not have to venture into the homeless camp known as The Jungle, a new documentary offering from television station KING5 offers a discomforting look.
KING director of photojournalism Matt Mrozinski teamed up with Seattle photographer Tim Durkan for a report that takes a unique view of the encampment and the people living on the East Duwamish Greenbelt along and beneath Interstate-5.
The city’s struggles with homelessness and affordability have provided a stark juxtaposition in recent years to stories of the tech boom and the growth and wealth associated with Seattle’s rapidly changing demographics.
KING called the VR video — titled “Under the Bridge” — “a first-of-its-kind experiment in local news,” which it said it shot over four months. Over the course of the 5-minute report, Mrozinski and Durkan provide a “360-degree immersion into the underworld of Seattle.”
The video is captivating for its use of VR technology, which allows the user to manipulate viewpoints and see entire surroundings (best viewed on a mobile device, a VR headset, or Google Chrome on a desktop). Trash and needles and tents and graffiti are all visible. It’s all paired with Durkan’s striking images of a woman named Tina, and her struggles as she survives in The Jungle.
Durkan is well known as a Seattle photographer who captures both the scenic beauty of the city and the difficult existence of people who live on its streets. KNKXrecently joined him on one of his night walks in which he photographs people on Capitol Hill.
“Seattle’s an amazing city. There’s a lot of beautiful things — Space Needle, sunsets, ferry boats … Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing. The quality of life here in Seattle is amazing,” Durkan said in the video. “But just underneath that surface is another life.”