a collective of VR explorers

We are Artists and Designers.

We are Musicians and Coders.

We are Virtual.

My video

We create Merged Realities

Our Latest

See Jeff + Mike talk about public space VR design at GDC 2016:
http://gdcvault.com/play/1023655/Through-the-Portal-and-Back

Our Creations

Between Lands (2015)

Between Lands is an immersive installation that asks volunteers inside and outside of virtual reality to work together to bring a series of musically reactive sculptures to life.  The social experience invites two volunteers on a cooperative journey through evocative worlds, while an audience surrounding them takes in the two realities in front of them. Read more

Across the Divide (2014)

Across the Divide invites two participants, one in virtual reality and one in physical reality, to have a musical conversation.  The actions of the participants result in an audio visual experience designed to delight audience members.  It debuted at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in December of 2014.  Across the Divide was featured as a pilot of Read more

Inworlds (2016)

This experimental performance invites a volunteer into virtual reality to become a character in a live theater show.  They enter a mysterious world to help a brave and curious creature make sense of a tragedy.  With its unique “mixed reality” presentation, Inworlds lets the audience peer directly into a VR world by covering the entire Read more

Who We Are

MEMBERS

 

Secret Portal is a collective of creators that has explored VR and mixed reality in public spaces for the last 3 years. Through partnerships like one with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, we’ve created immersive installations and performances that engage physical spaces, audience members, and VR participants.  We have pioneered unique forms of social communication that encourage direct interaction between people inside and outside of VR while sharing the same physical space.

Our tactile experiences are designed to inspire people of all ages!  We have a diverse set of backgrounds from AAA videogame developers to world music educators, giving us the ability to approach this new world of virtual reality from a unique perspective.

Mike

A co-founder of Secret Portal, Mike Mandel is a game programmer and designer in the Boston area with over 12 years of experience at places like EA, Apple, and Harmonix. He specializes in rapid prototyping and emerging technologies, most recently serving as tech lead on the trippy VR music visualizer, Harmonix Music VR. While at Harmonix, he also worked on a number of titles including The Beatles: Rock Band, Rock Band VR, Fantasia: Music Evolved, and Beat Sports. Outside of professional projects, he’s been experimenting with emerging mediums like VR through experimental games like Alien Makeout Simulator. His most recent VR work explores social room-scale experiences for public spaces.

Jeff

Jeff Hesser is a senior artist at Harmonix and a sculptor with expertise in both traditional and digital techniques. At Harmonix, Jeff is currently working as an environment artist on the Harmonix Music VR visualizer for Project Morpheus. He has also been the Lead Environment Artist on Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, a character artist on Rock Band 3 and Rock Band 4 and a generalist on multiple R&D prototypes. He has 15 years of teaching experience at the college level and received the Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006. He has taught courses, run workshops and written about effective critique practices. In addition to RISD, he has taught at the New York Academy of Art, Rhode Island College, the University at Buffalo, and Hubei Normal University in China. He has also taught workshops in sculpture, anatomy and/or drawing at the toy company Fisher-Price, the video game company Turbine and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Jeff’s sculpture has been in solo shows throughout the country and featured in exhibitions at the Dahesh Museum, the National Sculpture Society and the Parrish Art Museum. Jeff studied literature and philosophy at the University of Chicago before attending art school at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the New York Academy of Art and the University at Buffalo.

Guy

Composer, show creator and performer Guy Mendilow is fascinated by the power of music to shape the ways we experience stories, whether virtual, fictitious or real. A citizen of Israel, Great Britain and the United States, Mendilow began his professional stage career at age ten, touring internationally and domestically with the American Boy choir and singing some two hundred concerts a year in venues like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Years later, Mendilow directs an international ensemble combining world class musicianship with cinematographic storytelling to bring attention to under-represented music, cultures and language, with a specialty in Sephardic songs from the Mediterranean and Balkans.

Mendilow earned his Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College, his Masters in Music from Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA, and his International Certification in Dalcroze Eurhythmics from the Longy School of Music. He is currently a candidate for the advanced Dalcroze Eurythmics License degree under the mentorship of Lisa Parker.

Alongside enthusiastic reception at performing arts centers like the Shalin Liu Performance Center (Rockport, MA), Port Theatre (Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada), Teatró Principal (Zamora, Spain) and the Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA), Mendilow’s ensemble is enthusiastically received at festivals like the Chicago World Music Festival (Chicago, IL), International Festival of Arts and Ideas (New Haven, CT) and Festival Mémoire et Racines (Joliette, QC, Canada). Mendilow is a frequent visiting artist in universities including Harvard University, University of Washington, Emory University, Cornell University and Brandeis University, where he presents on a range of topics from the responsibilities of artists working with traditional material to improvisation as a tool for leadership. He and his ensemble are sought out by leading cultural organizations like Celebrity Series of Boston for their community impact through immersive residencies and thoughtful outreach.

Chris

Chris Baum is an American violinist, composer, educator, and recording artist. A pioneer of modern string technique, his strength lies in his versatility, consistently pushing the boundaries of the violin while molding his playing to fit ensembles and genres often deemed unsuitable for the instrument. Trained in a demanding classical environment, Baum expanded his musical vocabulary at Berklee College of Music, where he studied contemporary repertoire under Eugene Friesen, Mimi Rabson, and Sheldon Mirowitz. He graduated with honors in 2010 with a degree in film scoring and composition.

Chris’ growing list of credits include collaborations with Bent Knee, The Dear Hunter, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Dropkick Murphys, Amanda Palmer,Symmetry, Art Decade, Ben Levin, Guy Mendilow, Jherek Bischoff, and theVideo Game Orchestra, who recently featured him as a soloist at Boston’sSymphony Hall and on the ensemble’s recent tours in China and Taiwan. He currently resides in recording studios, tour buses, and Rockport, MA, where he teaches music at Brookwood, Pingree, SoulCove, and Rockport.

Dare

Dare Matheson is a visual artist with over 15 years of experience in interactive media and game development. He specializes in the creation of abstract visual effects, and has art directed many Harmonix titles, including The Beatles: Rock Band, Dance Central, and Guitar Hero 2. He has a background in experimental animation, and his independent film The Bible won top prize in the 1996 international Black Maria film festival.

Dawn

Dawn Rivers is a Cinematographer at Harmonix Music Systems and Secret Portal. She combines her passion for lighting and her extensive film background from Pixar and the Ringling College of Art and Design on games such as Rock Band 4, Dance Central: Spotlight, and Fantasia Music Evolved and is a pioneer in Virtual Reality, working on experiences like Harmonix Music VR for PlayStation VR. Dawn is deeply involved in the Boston game community as a member of the board of directors for the Boston Chapter of the International Game Developers Association and as a local Indie Developer with her company Mechamagizmo, which in part worked on the award winning Virtual Reality hit the Alien Makeout Simulator. Her exciting path into game development and her involvement for her local community has earned her a spot on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Game List.

Avital

Avital Manor-Peleg is an international artist, director, educator and social justice advocate. She uses collaborative, innovative non-verbal theater to explore relevant social and political issues. During decades of research, teaching, and directing, she developed the AMP (Alternative Masks Performances) acting method and taught mask work throughout the world. Avital utilizes the arts to bridge individuals and communities together through cultural exchange.

Originally from Israel, Avital graduated from Thelma Yellin national High School of the Arts. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees with honors from Tel Aviv University, later joining its theatre department as an instructor. She also served as the director and head master of The School For The Art Of Puppetry in Israel, where she pioneered the development of new academic puppetry programs. Avital worked as the Cultural Attaché at the Consulate General of Israel to New England, and she is associated with the ISTA international theatre organization as a teaching artist and educator. She was also join the Program Strategy Committee for the Jewish Art Collaborative organization. This year Avital start her position as the first International Artist in Residence in the Puppet Showplace theater. Recently, Avital was elected to the North Bennet Street School Committee of Overseers

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