We Checked out the Omega Mart During InfoComm... and Had Our Minds Blown

Heads in rainbow color in an infinity room at Meow Wolf.
(Image credit: Wayne Cavadi)

We here at SCN never shy away from the opportunity to see an immersive experience. This time, our adventures took us to "Where Reality Checks Out!"

That's the tagline for the Meow Wolf Las Vegas Omega Mart. Per the Meow Wolf website, "Meow Wolf started in 2008 as a small collective of Santa Fe artists sharing an interest in publicly displaying their works and developing their skills together." Since then, Meow Wolf has opened immersive, interactive experiences in Grapevine, TX; Denver; Santa Fe, NM; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; and Las Vegas.

Immersive technology shines in a rainbow of colors at Meow Wolf.

(Image credit: Wayne Cavadi)

The experience starts in the Omega Mart, coined America's Most Exceptional Grocery Store. It looks like your average grocery store but is far from it. The aisles are filled with items such as Emergency Clams, Tattoo Chicken, Cage Free Toes, and Happles. 

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However, the store is just a gateway to another universe—a multiverse, if you will. Whether you walk through the milk cooler or climb up the mysterious stairway by the Omega Mart t-shirts, you wind up in Meow Wolf's multiverse powered by mind-blowing projection mapping, entrancing music, and bedazzling lighting effects. 

SCN Goes “Where Reality Checks Out!” - YouTube SCN Goes “Where Reality Checks Out!” - YouTube
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"We run on the ETC platform, with Q-SYS and Paradigm controlling our lighting, audio, and relays on a global level, with show lighting being programmed using a Hog," explained Jill Mendoza, tech maintenance for Meow Wolf Omega Mart. "Balena is used for IoT management specifically in regard to our 'Boop' system and narrative TVs, supported by Raspberry Pis. 

"From a software perspective, most of our individual exhibits, including projections, utilize a handshake between TouchDesigner and Max MSP. Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and in-house PCBs support the interactions built into those softwares. TouchDesigner and Max are the foundation for generative audio and visuals, with few exceptions. Content such as that on the TVs or in the Projected Desert, including audio, are handed off to us from our teams in Santa Fe."

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The adventure itself had the feel of the TV show Lost. You are hot on the trail of a kind of sci-fi mystery that is seemingly unsolvable. The room is a maze as you try to discover what happened to Walter and Cecilia Dram, the fictional founders of the Omega Mart. Leave no handle unpulled, no button un-pushed, and travel down any and every corridor you find, even if you have to get down and crawl through tunnels. You can even play along and purchase a $3 Boop card for a guided RFID tour so you can join the Omega Mart team.

True to Meow Wolf's origins, each section is brought to life through an artist's vision, like the stunning Pulse by Claudia Bueno seen below. The intrinsic white lines, spirals, and designs on 60 glass panels are brought to life when illuminated. Add in the trance-like music, and one could stare at this masterpiece for quite some time.  

Claudia Bueno: Pulse | Meow Wolf Las Vegas - YouTube Claudia Bueno: Pulse | Meow Wolf Las Vegas - YouTube
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The centerpiece (in my opinion) is the Painted Desert of Seven Monolith Village. Massive projection-mapped images slowly glide over mountains, while a "river" in rainbow lighting and peaceful music, create a setting where one could sit for an hour and just watch the changing graphics. 

SCN Eyes Up Immersive Technology at Meow Wolf in Las Vegas. - YouTube SCN Eyes Up Immersive Technology at Meow Wolf in Las Vegas. - YouTube
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Eventually, you wind up back in reality in the Omega Mart, where you can shop for souvenirs or go check out the rest of Area 15's immersive experiences (of which there are plenty, including an Illuminarium which we've explored in both Atlanta and Toronto). 

It is a massive space that you can easily get lost in (both intentionally and unintentionally) so there are tour guides to lead you around. But where's the fun in that? We spent well more than an hour getting lost and you can easily spend more time finding your way through the multiverse.

Wayne Cavadi
Senior Content Manager

Wayne Cavadi is the senior content manager of Systems Contractor News. Prior to taking a leap into the Pro AV industry, Wayne was a journalist and content lead for Turner Sports, covering the NCAA, PGA, and Major and Minor League Baseball. His work has been featured in a variety of national publications including Bleacher Report, Lindy's Magazine, MLB.com and The Advocate. When not writing, he hosts the DII Nation Podcast, committed to furthering the stories and careers of NCAA Division II student-athletes. Follow his work on Twitter at @WayneCavadi_2 or the SCN mag Twitter page.