#726: Using VR to Deconstruct Tropes & Normative Ideas of Narrative with Filip Kostic

filip-kosicFilip Kostic is an artist and educator at the ArtCenter College of Design, and he had a piece called Landgrab: The Musical that was featured in the Sp[a]tial Realities Art Show curated by Jesse Damiani. Landgrab is a post-modern musical that is trying to deconstruct all of the typical tropes of the Western by exploring concepts of storytelling and experience that evoke embodied experiences of anxiety and the empty spaces that ordinary experiences have. Storytelling is typically optimized for conveying a condensed version of the highlights of a story, but an experience often isn’t completely packed with non-stop action, which means that there’s often a contrast between the build-up of tension of nothingness and boredom that’s released when something interesting or intriguing happens.

Live sports and eSports games often have a flow of action and inaction, and it’s these ebbs and flows that make it more of an experience where you have your own experience within it. Walking simulator games like Fortnite or Player Unknown Battlegrounds also have lots of downtime with unexpected bursts of action that has helped these games become such a livestreaming phenomenon as this building and releasing of tension between the mundane and conflict-packed action. From a narrative and storytelling perspective, this means that experiential mediums like VR and AR have the opportunity to start to play with the more mundane emptiness within the context of an experience that could be used to contrast it between more dynamic change and story that’s unfolding.

Kostic explores some of these dynamics within Landgrab as he’s not afraid to evoke feelings of anxiety within the viewer as he’s not trying to present a series of non-stop action within he’s pieces. He’s spent a long time just to even create these different environments, and so he wants to invite the person experiencing it to take in the architecture and environments that he’s created. Landgrab splits up the virtual world into four quadrants where action is only happening within a 90-degree radius at any given time, which allows him to ensure that the audience’s attention is within a predictable 90-degree section, which allows him to explore some more cinematic aspects of spatial storytelling.

I had a chance to catch up with Kostic at the Sp[a]tial Realities art show in October, where we talk about his wide range of philosophical exploration including authority, the contingency connection between physical and virtual space, identity, our expectations of what a story should be, reflections, scale, and how horizon lines and vanishing points provide a metaphor for masculine expression of emotion.


Landgrab: The Musical is available for free on itch.io.

Here’s a trailer for Landgrab

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality