gondwana-vr
Gondwana VR simulates 100 years of climate change in the Daintree Rainforest within a 24-hour durational simulation that’s running each day throughout the Sundance New Frontier 2022 selection. Lead artists Ben Joseph Andrews and Emma Roberts symbolically translated scientific projections into a degrading ecosystem in VR that’s made up on 40-50,000 forest assets across a virtual space of over 30 acres, but they also created a generative sound design based upon over 40 hours of source audio that represents how the soundscape of insects and birds are projected to change over 100 years from 1990 to 2090.

All of this is being simulated in real time as users are able to save up to ~12% of the assets in the forest through a mechanic of sending firefly-like light particles into individual trees. The end result is both a slow and meditative experience, but also a durational piece that encourages you to come back and check up on it throughout the course of the day. There’s a livestream on their website that you can listen to the ambient sounds slowly change over the course of the day. I’d actually recommend being embodied within the full VR experience first ($50 Sundance Explorer Pass tickets to the entire New Frontier selection should be available until the end of the festival on January 30th), especially because the rendered livestream is a lot different than what it feels like to be fully immersed into the experience and to directly experience the many cycles within cycles within cycles that are happening. The 24-hour experience resets each day at around 10a PST / 6p GMT, and so I’d recommend seeing it at the beginning, and then checking it out throughout the course of the day. And then come back for the finale at the end, and then contrast that again to the new day beginning after 10a PST.

I had a chance to speak with lead artists Andrews and Roberts as well as key collaborator Lachlan Sleight after having a chance to spend 1.5-3 hours within the experience before the festival kicked off. We talked about the journey of creating a piece like this, how they took inspiration from durational artists like John Cage, and some of the challenges of trying to represent these long scales of time symbolically and through the course of a 24-hour period of time. I had some really powerful moments of awe and wonder within Gondwana, and there’s many challenges and opportunities for the durational form of immersive storytelling that’s not be bound up by the traditional constraints of time and space that physical installations in a festival or museum context may suffer from. The pandemic has forced a piece like this to go completely virtual, which has resulted pushing the limits and boundaries for what’s possible in telling the stories of relational dynamics of a complex ecosystem over time. Definitely try to dip into the experience before their run at Sundance ends on January 30th to be able to experience it for yourself.

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Music: Fatality

We Met in Virtual Reality – Still 1

joe-huntingWe Met in Virtual Reality is feature-length documentary by Joe Hunting premiering today at the Sundance film festival. It follows five different protagonists (2 couples in long distance relationships and a sign language teacher) throughout the course of a year in their various travels and relationships within VRChat. It starts to show the types of full-body tracked & embodied interactions that are happening within social VR as an observational, cinéma vérité documentary, but it also tells the stories of these five protagonists lives in a very real and humanizing way.

I had a spoiler-free chat with director Hunting about his process of fully immersing himself into VR that he did for nearly two years of making he previous three short film projects in VRChat (A Wider Screen (2019), Club Zodiac (2020), & Virtually Speaking (2020)).

Individual tickets for the screening of We Met in Virtual Reality for the 2p PST world premiere today (January 21), and all day January 23rd are still available for $20. And stay tuned to Hunting’s @Joeahunting or @WeMetinVRfilm Twitter accounts for more details of future screenings, including within VRChat itself.

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Music: Fatality

https://d1icj85yqthyoq.cloudfront.net

new-frontier-2022
Shari-Frilot-1
The Sundance New Frontier 2022 selection of 15 immersive stories is available starting today until January 30th, and I had a chance to speak with chief curator Shari Frilot an overview of this year’s selection. Access to New Frontier Spaceship and Gallery is $50 with the Explorer Pass, which also provides access to the shorts and episodic content at the festival.

I’ve also had a chance to see the majority of these pieces through the press preview on Tuesday, and I leave some of my first impressions at the end of the podcast as well — as well as in a Twitter thread linked below. There’s some really strong pieces that I’ll exploring and unpacking in a series of in-depth podcast interviews with the lead directors and creators. I’ve listed links to projects below, as well as when their Artist Spotlight discussions with the creators will be happening.

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Music: Fatality

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/d1icj85yqthyoq.cloudfront.net

chalmers-reality_plus
Philosopher David Chalmers has an amazing book called “Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy” that is being released on January 25th, and I was able to get early access and interview him about the many provocative ideas that he covers in his book. It’s part introductory course to philosophy, a public philosophy translation of age-old debates around virtual worlds and Descartes’ evil demons, but also lot of novel philosophical arguments that will challenge your concept of the nature of reality itself. Tune in for an overview of some of the biggest ideas around how virtual reality should be considered a genuine reality and how we can’t prove that we’re not in a simulation.

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Music: Fatality

doclab-opendoclab
William-Uricchio-square-250x250
William Uricchio is a Professor of Comparitive Media Studies at MIT, who started Open Documentary Lab in 2012 as a research initiative to look at implications of emerging technologies & the implications for the work of documentary. The MIT Co-Creation Studio was started in either 2018 or 2019 to research methods of immersive media creation. We talk about the theory, practice, & history of immersive storytelling and the medium of documentary, as well as the R&D Progam collaboration between IDFA DocLab and MIT’s Open DocLab that was launched in 2018.

This interview was recorded on Tuesday, December 20th, 2021 as a part of a collaboration with IDFA’s DocLab to celebrate their 15th year anniversary.

If you’d like to support the Voices of VR podcast, then consider becoming a member at Patron.com/voicesofvr.

Thanks for listening!

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Here’s a recent talk that I gave about Process Philosophy [slides] [video], which I think could form a solid theoretical basis for experiential design:

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

Music: Fatality

full-dome-creative-network
Michaela_French
Michaela French is a visual artist working with moving image, primarily in immersive experiences in the context of a full dome space. She’s been collaborating with DocLab since 2019 in creating dome content, supporting new artists, and promoting a full-dome medium as a potential alternative immersive experience beyond single-user VR experiences. She is also a lecturer and researcher, and the chair of the Full Dome Creative Network. We talked about the following projects that have shown at IDFA DocLab since 2019:

This was recorded on Tuesday, December 14th, 2021 as a part of a collaboration with IDFA’s DocLab to celebrate their 15th year anniversary.

If you’d like to support the Voices of VR podcast, then consider becoming a member at Patron.com/voicesofvr.

Thanks for listening!

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

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

Music: Fatality

francesca-panetta-portfolio
Francesca-Panetta2Francesca Panetta is a freelance immersive artist, director, journalist who worked at The Guardian experimenting with new forms of storytelling, then as a creative director at MIT experimenting with new forms of storytelling using AI, and now is an independent artist. We talked about the following projects that have been featured at DocLab since 2014:

This was recorded on Tuesday, December 14th, 2021 as a part of a collaboration with IDFA’s DocLab to celebrate their 15th year anniversary.

If you’d like to support the Voices of VR podcast, then consider becoming a member at Patron.com/voicesofvr.

Thanks for listening!

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

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

Music: Fatality

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/d1icj85yqthyoq.cloudfront.net

AATOAA
Vincent Morisset is the founder of the studio AATOAA, and has been doing interactive projects for the past 2 decades. He’s worked with folks like Arcade Fire and the National Film Board of Canada on projects spanning mediums from screens, XR headsets, as well as physical installations. One of the core features of AATOAA’s projects is interactivity. Caroline Robert’s Brain Stream premiered at IDFA DocLab 2021 and has been working with Morisset for the past 10 years. We talked about the following projects that have been featured at IDFA DocLab since 2013:

This was recorded on Friday, December 3, 2021 as a part of a collaboration with IDFA’s DocLab to celebrate their 15th year anniversary.

If you’d like to support the Voices of VR podcast, then consider becoming a member at Patron.com/voicesofvr.

Thanks for listening!

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

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

Music: Fatality

false-mirror
Ali Eslami is an Iranian artist who has been working with VR since 2014 & living in Amsterdam since 2018, and we talked about these projects that have been featured at DocLab since 2016:

This was recorded on Friday, December 3, 2021 as a part of a collaboration with IDFA’s DocLab to celebrate their 15th year anniversary.

If you’d like to support the Voices of VR podcast, then consider becoming a member at Patron.com/voicesofvr.

Thanks for listening!

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

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

Music: Fatality

moniker

Roel Wouters is a founding partner of Moniker, which is a small tight-nit studio doing projects on how people relate to technologies, social impact of technologies, and the side effects to our lives. We talked about many of their social experiments and interactive projects featured at IDFA DocLab since 2016:

This was recorded on Friday, December 3, 2021 as a part of a collaboration with IDFA’s DocLab to celebrate their 15th year anniversary.

If you’d like to support the Voices of VR podcast, then consider becoming a member at Patron.com/voicesofvr.
Thanks for listening!

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

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

Music: Fatality