ARTE is a French German television network that promotes cultural programming that was started in 1992, and they’ve been pioneers in the digital space for a long time. They’ve also funded over 60 VR projects over the past 5 years including many landmark projects including Notes on Blindness, Battlescar, Gloomy Eyes, Alteration, and I, Philip.
Kay Meseberg is the head of mission innovation at ARTE looking at the the “TV of After Tomorrow,” and so he’s been involved in looking at the immersive storytelling potential of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Meseberg authored a paper with Regina Kaplan-Rakowski about the “Immersive Media and their Future” where they look into the past to see the evolution of previous communications mediums. They saw that there was almost immediate benefit for every previous medium, and they’re seeing very similar patterns for XR. It’s in part of these insights, that ARTE has been so forward-looking and a believer in immersive technologies as a new medium for storytelling that they’ve invested heavily over the past five years in working with a number of immersive storytellers from around the world to push forward what’s possible from a storytelling perspective.
I had a chance to catch up with Meseberg at the IDFA DocLab where we talk about his journey into tracking the intersection of story and technology, his research into how VR fits within the larger trends of previous communications mediums, the work they’re doing for digital distribution as well as experimenting with location-based entertainment, as well as some of the production highlights from the roster of more than 60 immersive narrative titles that they’ve produced.
We also talk about French media theorist Bernard Miège’s definition of a communication medium as being the “distribution and the edition” and how he’s been getting some recent inspiration from Pierre Klossowski on “Liquid Currency” as well as from MIT’s György Kepes and inventor of holography Dennis Gabor on how technology could be used in balance with nature and the environment.
ARTE has been doing an amazing job of helping to support over 60 different VR projects that have been pushing forward the language of storytelling within VR, and I look forward to seeing more US-based companies follow their lead in helping to fund a lot of pioneering work. Oculus has been funding quite a lot of content in the U.S., but there’s not been nearly as much experimentation of funding cutting-edge narrative content from companies like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney, or Hulu. Without additional distribution channels and experiments with producing location-based entertainment content, then many artists and immersive storytellers have to find alternative sources of funding or do international co-productions. Hopefully there will be more companies who look to see what ARTE has been doing as the European immersive storytelling community has been getting a lot more support and funding to produce narrative experiments.
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