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This Year, Cairo’s International Book Fair Experiences Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” In VR

A German startup and an Egyptian startup joined hands to give the Book Fair’s visitors an eccentric experience.

Between February 1stand 5th, the German pavilion at Cairo’s International Book Fair had a Virtual Reality (VR) installation to place its visitors in the shoes of one of modern literature’s most prominent protagonists.

VRwandlung, which is a play on the original German title “Verwandlung,” is a VR adaptation of Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” directed by multimedia artist Mika Johnson, put together by his startup and produced by Goethe Institut Prague. Goethe Institute reached out to Egyptian VR startup 412 Labs to technically support with virtualising the climax of Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” where the main character wakes up one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a human-sized cockroach.

Without paying fees, visitors of the German pavilion wait in line for their turn, as an usher fits them in a pair of goggles, hand- and leg-pieces all attached to sensors that would accurately simulate Kafka’s protagonist, aligning the visuals with the player’s movements. The player first finds himself in bed, then walks around the room – with the usher’s guidance so he doesn’t stumble upon any obstacles – and eventually looks at the mirror to find a huge cockroach staring back.

Johnson and his team have been displaying their Metamorphosis VR installation since 2018. Starting off in Prague, they kicked off a world tour visiting Tallinn, Seoul, Kiev, Tokyo, Pardubice, Bratislava, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tapei, and most recently Cairo.

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