From the Main Square tells the story of a polarized city by placing you in the middle of a hand-drawn and animated city as it goes through different waves of conflict and evolution. There are many individual characters who you can trace throughout the course of the experience, but it’s easier to focus on the an overall gestalt of broad shifts and changes over time.
This is the master thesis animation project Pedro Harres, who went back to get a philosophy degree so he could better structure arguments, embed thought experiments, and socio-political provocations, reflections, and commentary into his work. And he’s encoded many references to Brazilian culture, architecture, and political dynamics that have been unfolding there over many years.
While there are some lightweight interactions of zooming into characters and triggering actions, there are many aspects of the experience that are being unconsciously triggered by the audience based upon which quadrant of the experience they’re looking at. This enables a type of fluidity and flow in the experience where there’s also some dynamic action happening at just the right time without you even necessarily noticing. It provides the experience of a natural unfolding of a passive experience, but the very act of your witnessing is unwittingly triggering a linear array of events.
The From the Main Square took home the 2nd place Grand Jury Prize at Venice Immersive, and I had a chance to sit down with creator Pedro Harres to unpack his journey of creating this piece of prescient and timely art that’s tapping into some deeper themes of polarized conflict happening in his home country, but also around the world.
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