uncsa-immersive-storytelling

Note: This is a sponsored content post from the University University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Melissa Upton, UNCSA Staff. 2/7/18The Media + Emerging Technology Lab (METL) is situated within the film school of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and they have a couple of 6-month immersive storytelling residency programs coming up in 2020.

I talk with METL Director Ryan Schmaltz to get more context on these three initial positions that has a submission deadline of January 15th. But we also talk about their interdisciplinary approach to teaching film and art students how to start working with immersive technologies, spatial storytelling, and the intersection between enterprise training and art. Schmaltz comes from an engineering and business background, and so he’s been focused on cultivating collaborations and immersive experiences within different medical & enterprise contexts. He also talks about their focus on social equity, economic development, outreach and literacy to the local community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Robust distribution options for immersive storytelling experiences stills needs to be fully figured out, but UNCSA’s METL is committed to experimenting with supporting artists through this residency program to continue to push innovation in the forms of immersive storytelling, explore new options for promotion of this type of work, and continue to build ties to the broader immersive industry as they continue to develop their curriculum to train the next generation of immersive storytellers.

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Music: Fatality

Doc Fortnight 2019
Kathy Brew tried her first VR experience at NASA Ames in 1985. She’s been at the intersection of art of technology for a long time, and she was at IDFA DocLab scouting for immersive experiences as a guest curator of Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) Doc Fortnite program. I had a chance to sit down with Brew at the end of my DocLab journey in order capture some historical context from her experiences in San Francisco from 1981 to 1994, and then in New York City since 1994.

Brew said that one of the most amazing experiences that she’s ever had in VR was Char Davies’ Osmose at a SoHo art show in 1995, which has the following description:

Osmose (1995) is an immersive interactive virtual-reality environment installation with 3D computer graphics and interactive 3D sound, a head-mounted display and real-time motion tracking based on breathing and balance. Osmose is a space for exploring the perceptual interplay between self and world, i.e., a place for facilitating awareness of one’s own self as consciousness embodied in enveloping space.

Osmose (1995) – Char Davies – 16 min

This would an impressively ambitious experience if it was released today, let alone for being created in 1995. It certainly left an impression on Brew, as it still stands as the most powerful experience in VR that she’s ever had.

One of the things that really stuck with Brew was that it was an experience that was able to engage people as they were waiting to experience it from within the VR headset. Throughput and waiting in lines in the bane of existence for all screenings of immersive works, and it’s something that doesn’t have a perfect solution yet since there’s always less capacity and less space to handle the demand to see the content. Brew shares her frustrating experiences at festivals like Tribeca, and she’s tired of waiting and wants to just see the work. The Ayahuasca VR experience had an exhibition at the Eye Filmmuseum started to create supplemental content for people to look at within a museum context that including music, videos, and art work. There were a lot of interesting things to look at before the 20+ minute screening, which could help reduce some of the idle waiting time by providing a museum layout of onboarding content.

Brew also serves as a guest curator for MoMA’s Doc Fortnite, and she’s been collaborating with immersive curators for the Non-Fiction Plus that includes NFB Interactive, MIT Open Doc Lab, MIT Co-Creation Lab, Ars Electronica, and this year it’ll be IDFA DocLab chief programmer Caspar Sonnen.

So my DocLab journey ends with looking into the past in order to look into the future.

Overall, I had an amazingly packed 4-day trip where I was able to see nearly all of the experiences, do 17 interviews totaling over 10 hours of conversations. This was edited down to 9 hours, and then I added back 3.5 hours of intros and outros contextualizing it all for a total of a 12.5-hour series. Hopefully you enjoyed it and have been able to get a lot out of insights from it.

Thanks for listening, and please consider supporting this work on Patreon at https://patreon.com/voicesof

Thanks!

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Music: Fatality

climate-crimes

michaela-frenchMichaela French has been making large-scale immersive, full dome experiences since 1999, and at IDFA DocLab she was showing her Climate Crimes piece, which explores the complex relationship between global air pollution, climate change and human migration. The IDFA DocLab had three different dome screenings showing at the ARTIS-Planetarium for the first time in 2019, and I talk with French about some of the unique affordances of the dome as a medium that’s distinctly different than both film and regular VR experiences.

French uses the affordances of full dome immersion to connect the dots between the small microcosm to the large macrocosm within her Climate Crimes experience. So she has been thinking quite a bit about the small actions that we all need to make in order to make a difference on this issue, and she calls it more of a crisis of consciousness and a crisis of ego rather than labeling it as a climate crisis. We need to collectively change our actions, but we first need to change our thinking and our conceptual frameworks for how reality works. She’s been looking into more ecological frameworks from perception expert and philosopher James J. Gibson who pioneered ecological psychology with E. J. Gibson. This paper by Lobo, Heras-Escribano and Travieso says that “the main principles of ecological psychology are the continuity of perception and action, the organism-environment system as unit of analysis, the study of affordances as the objects of perception, combined with an emphasis on perceptual learning and development.”

After diving so deep into this topic for her Climate Crimes piece, French provides a refreshingly candid account as to what is at stake when it comes to the implications of climate change, especially when it comes to human migration and who is at the most risk for being displaced due to the fallout from climate change. French had just attended Sunday evening’s Artificial Futures Symposium focusing on artificial intelligence, which created quite a contrast to what she considered to be what the most pressing issues of our day and what we’re focusing on. She is able to provide a much deeper context and ground the conversation into some pretty fundamental issues that we’re facing as humanity.

French also strongly believes in the power of immersive storytelling, and the power of dome experiences to be able to make a difference in people’s thinking. And if we can change people’s thinking, then we might be able to change some of those people’s actions. If enough actions are changed, then it might be able to bring about deeper societal and global change. It’s a difficult conversation to have, but it’s also one of the most important ones that happened for me in my coverage at the DocLab.

There’s a lot more to unpack in this conversation, but it’s probably best if you listen to it and then invite a friend to listen to it so that you can unpack it together. We all need to figure out what our role is in trying to bring about change, and hopefully there’s something in this conversation & transmission that helps you find that if you don’t already know.

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Music: Fatality

what-they-destroy-we-will-build-again

astrid-feringa
Astrid Feringa had a video essay installation at the IDFA DocLab where she was critiquing how the British Institute of Digital Archaeology was using photogrammetry to reconstruct a piece of destroyed architecture. What are the ethics around recreating destroyed pieces of cultural heritage? Who has the license or right to recreate architecture and create new narratives around it? What are the power dynamics of this process? Who benefits? Whose stories may be overwritten when this happens? This is a sample of some of the insightful and important questions that Feringa was asking in her video installation What they destroy, we will build again.

This project was catalyzed with Feringa attended a public unveiling of the Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph, which was a 2/3 scale model of the original arch that was destroyed by ISIS militants in Syria as an act of iconoclasm. The British Institute of Digital Archaeology gathered a lot of old photographs, and then created a 3D model of the arch, which was then etched into Egyptian marble. When Ferigna saw the arch paraded by Western leaders like Boris Johnson, then she started to look at the structural power dynamics at play and started to question whether the recreation itself was another destructive act of iconoclasm that was superseding the original narratives of the original arch that was destroyed. In this new age of volumetric reconstruction of architecture, then there are sorts of new ethical boundaries that need to be navigated, and Feringa is pointing out some of the potential blindspots of this type of cultural heritage when it may be just another form of cultural colonialism.

The actual video essay was split between two vertical screens, which functionally served to recreate the two columns of an arch. The soggy wet carpet and white blanket evoke the surreal nature of a public unveiling of the arch in what appear to be performative rituals of power. The immersive installation of the piece helps to amplify the weird juxtaposition of manufactured ancient architecture with soggy mass-produced industrial carpets that Feringa experienced when attending a ceremony after it had just rained.

Feringa’s background is in graphic design and design research, but she also attended a new Non-Linear Narrative program at the Royal Academy of Art at The Hague. She said that it was a program focused on developing critical theories around immersive, interactive, and
non-linear media. It’s through this program that she produced a short-film with Jean Baptiste Castel called This is Not the Amazon. This piece was shown during the Artificial Futures Symposium event at the IDFA DocLab, and it also cultivates an awareness of our relationship to the digital representations in our lives by deconstructing a virtual scene of nature.

I’m really glad that I’m starting to see critical theorists like Feringa engaging in analysis of what’s happening with interactive narratives and spatial computing. There’s still a lot of blindspots for creators as they pioneer applications and experiences that are blurring the contextual lines in ways that will continue to have all sorts of unintended consequences. I tried to map out some of these moral dilemmas at 60-minute main stage talk at AWE 2019, and then a distilled down 30-minute XR Ethics Manifesto. The issues that Feringa was bringing up in her video essay were novel issues that I hadn’t thought of before, and so there’s like many more new situations like these that need to have more interrogation as that weigh the desired intentions of preserving cultural heritage against the media spectacle and social reputational benefits and political capital that’s gained from the existing power dynamics.

I’m a strong believer in the power of dialect, and that immersive creators and immersive critiques need to work together in order to both produce better work as well as to discover the types of ethical blindspots that Ferginga is pointing out. This dynamic of the dialectic reminds of a clip of philosopher Agnes Callard that I watched before traveling to Amsterdam. Callard makes the argument in her book The Agency of Becoming that it’s impossible to both believe truths and avoid believing falsehoods because these are actually incompatiable to being done at the same time. But in order to generate knowledge, then you actually do you need to believe true things and avoid believing falsehoods.

Callard says that the genius of the Socratic method is that it allows for competing perspectives to collaborate with each other in the pursuit of the truth. Socrates realized is that you can achieve knowledge if there are two people who each take on the responsibility of one of the perspectives of arguing for the belief of truths while the other argues to avoid believing falsehoods. It’s an adversarial division of labor that needs both sides to be operating well in order to produce knowledge. It’s in that same spirit of the dialectic that we need pioneering immersive creators who are willing to to build a range of experiences, but also immersive critics like Ferginga who are deconstructing the underlying assumptions, biases, and power dynamics in order for the community of immersive creators to become more aware of these types of ethical blindspots.

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Music: Fatality

doclab-intro2

caspar-sonnen2
Caspar Sonnen founded the DocLab as a part of the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2007 after a period of being really skeptical about some of the early overstated and inflated claims of the transformative power of interactive storytelling. He was turned off by hyperbolic statements like “actors will be obsolete in five years” and “interactive stories will liberate people from the dictatorship of the author.” Sonnen fell in love with cinema, and started programming the open air film festival called “Seize The Night.” He eventually started to see some interactive work that proved his skepticism wrong and forced him to reconsider the potentials of the digital realm, and this emerging fusion between reality and technology.

This year’s informal theme for DocLab was “Domesticating Reality: How we shape technology. How technology shapes us,” which came about as Sonnen was thinking about the implications of expanding into multiple exhibition venues including a dome as well as someone’s private home in the experience Look Inside. He starting thinking about the common threads between all of these contexts that were converging ranging from domes to living rooms, and came across the phrase Domestication, and then subsequently to the “Domestication Theory” of technological adoption where it goes through a series of phases starting with discovery & integration, there are some significant shifts within the environment and general behaviors, sometimes there’s a moral panic phase where it’s simultaneously good and bad, and then eventually the technology disappears and becomes so ubiquitous as to be invisible.

I had a chance to catch up with Sonnen at the IDFA DocLab 2019 where we talked about expanding the exhibitions into the dome at ARTIS-Planetarium, 3 shops in Central Station, the Eye Filmmuseum, Compagnietheater, walking tours around Amsterdam, someone’s private residence, and the new main location and central hub at Tolhuistuin. We also talked about the theme of artificial intelligence as there were as lot of theatrical projects exploring this topic in 2019, as well as starting to think about a vision of the future media ecosystem that they want to cultivate by 2035 and what needs to happen to create that.

Finally, Sonnen made a seemingly simple but profound point that really stuck with me. He said that the fundamental character of an interactive piece of work is that the more you put in, then the more you should get out. A normal, authored, linear piece typically doesn’t change or adapt based upon how you engage with it, but interactive media has the potential to respond and react to your inputs. If you query an interactive system for curiosity, then hopefully it’ll be able to satisfy your curiosity through what you get back. He cited Vincent Morisset’s piece Vast Body 22 as an example of an experience that only works when you interact with it. It’s a Kinect camera connected to a TV screen, and it replaces your body’s motion with a still image of a similar pose, but only as long as you keep moving. As soon as you stop, then the experience freezes and stops working. Sonnen says that this simple principle is the essence of all interactive pieces of work, and I definitely had a direct experience of this both with Vast Body 22 as well as with Look Inside

I had a great time at DocLab, as I think it’s one of the most cutting edge and experimental contexts to be able to push the limits and boundaries of what’s possible with immersive and interactive documentaries. I’m grateful for the team at DocLab for flying me over to Amsterdam to be able to participate in the DocLab Conference, to see almost all of the pieces of work, and to help to document the work there by doing 17 Voices of VR interviews totaling over 12.5 hours of coverage. That said, the work that I’m doing here is still primarily supported through my Voices of VR Patreon, and so if you’re enjoying this coverage, then please consider becoming a supporting member.

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Music: Fatality

vr-manifesto

julia-scott-stevenson
Julia Scott-Stevenson got her practice-based Ph.D. on interactive and immersive documentaries (aka “i-docs”) and social impact with her i-doc Giving Time. She’s now a research fellow of interactive factual media at the Digital Cultures Research Center at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and she produces the i-Docs Symposium that’s coming up on March 25-27, 2020.

Scott-Stevenson was also an Immersion Fellow in the South West Creative Technology Network where she received grant money that she used to travel to different film festivals to see the latest immersive documentary narrative experiments. It’s from this experience that she decided to write up five experiential design tips into a pieced called “Manifesto: Virtual Futures: A Manifesto for Immersive Experiences.” Here are the five major points of her VR manifesto with some annotations for how I see each of these points fit into the experiential design process.

  1. Stage an encounter — See also: connection, conversation [Me: Mental & Social Presence]
  2. Be wild: Bewilderment is powerful — See also: Joy, awe [Me: Character of Experience]
  3. Move from being to doing — See also: agency, interaction, control [Me: Active Presence]
  4. Embody the future — See also: bodies, voices [Me: Embodied Presence]
  5. Care: the participants matter — Onboarding. Offboarding. [Me: Context switch from IRL to Magic Circle]

Scott-Stevenson also shared a number of pointers to different critical theorists & philosophers including Levinas on encounters, Sarah Pink on Digital Ethnography & tracking how people use technology, how Visual Sociology uses photography & documentary as a form of anthropological documentation, Sharon Clark on immersive theater, Jeremy Bailenson’s work with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, and Mel Slater’s work with University of Barcelona’s EVENT Lab (Experimental Virtual Environments for Neuroscience and Technology).

Some of definitions of documentary that Scott-Stevenson finds informative include:

  • John Grierson: “Creative treatment of actuality.”
  • Bill Nichols: “Discourses of Sobriety”
  • Dirk Eitzen: “A documentary is any motion picture that is susceptible to the question ‘Might it be lying?’”

We also talk about about what is and is not an immersive documentary, and whether the definition is changing and evolving. We also talk about how to tell the story of a place, and how there may not be just one singular, central grand narrative. She’s been collaborating with South West Creative Technology Network fellow Coral Manton on an augmented reality app that tries to show many different perspectives on a single location or artifact.

Finally, the biggest issue that she sees that we’re facing is global climate change, and she’s hoping that the immersive and interactive documentaries can help to find new ways to tell the social, environmental, and social impact stories on issues that matter. Perhaps these types of experiences can find new ways to engage and reach new audiences, and help to tell new stories in a way that inspires people to make incremental changes in their behaviors.

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Here are the Immersion prototypes from the South West Creative Technology Network:

Here’s Sarah Pink talking about Digital Ethnography

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Music: Fatality

vr-encounters

mandy-rose
Professor Mandy Rose of the University of the West of England, Bristol is one of the three principle investigators of the Virtual Reality: Immersive Documentary Encounters project that’s funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

There are six major questions that the VR: Immersive Documentary Encounters project is set out to investigate including:

  • How spatial storytelling can be used to witness the real?
  • How presence impacts subjects in a documentary?
  • How does VR’s affordances with social interaction or social isolation mediate VR documentary experiences?
  • “What are the ethical implications of virtual encounters with images of real people and places?”
  • What are the challenges of cultivating an interdisciplinary grammar for virtual reality that includes documentary across a range of different disciplines and domains?
  • “What business models are emerging to support VR documentary production?”

One of the principle questions that they’re going to be exploring are the ethical implications of VR looked at through a documentary lens. Rose was in the process of putting together a gathering of immersive documentary producers and scholars to meet up at the BBC Broadcasting House in London to discuss some of these ethical issues. She mentioned that there were some insights from my recent XR Ethics Manifesto that she would be passing along.

She also mentioned that she’d primarily be using documentary theorist Michael Renov’s central triad of looking at the relationship between the producer and subject as well as the producer and the audience. In terms of the producer-and-subject relationship some of the big questions that come for her include: How are the terms of the relationship negotiated? Who decides what story is told? Who produces value from the interaction? Who derives reputational value? Who derives economic value? Rose said that usually all of these answers undoubtedly benefit the professional producer and media maker.

In terms of the relationship between the producer and the audience, many of the issues have to do with things like truth, veracity, integrity in representations of the real-world and the historical reality it references, ethical issues around rhetoric and persuasion, and then issues around responsibly handling the emotional and visceral power of immersive. There’s also the whole issue of what data are collected on each person as they watch the experience, and then what happens to that data. She’s also leveraging a lot of the research that was cited in Madary and Matzinger’s paper titled, “Real Virtuality: A Code of Ethical Conduct. Recommendations for Good Scientific Practice and the Consumers of VR Technology.”

Rose also says that the ethical practices of 2D documentary films are far from being settled or having any type of normative standards around. There are a wide variety of philosophies and approaches to ethics in documentary, and we’re starting to see an even wider approach to ethics because as Rose points out, there are many people who are coming from non-documentary, and more technical backgrounds where they don’t have the larger ethical context for how these normative standards may have been developing within the context of the documentary film production community.

Finally, Rose talks a little bit about the challenges of distribution, some of their preliminary research in terms of whether people are willing to put on a VR HMD at home to watch documentary content, and the visceral power of embodied experiences to be able to catalyze behavioral change and cultivate a closer relationship with other people and the world around us.

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Here’s the XR Ethics Manisfesto that I presented at the Greenlight Strategy Conference on October 18, 2019 in San Francisco, CA.

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Music: Fatality

bbc-vr-hub

zillah-watson
For two years, the BBC VR Hub was producing VR content to test out the potential for immersive technologies to help fulfill the BBC’s mission to inform, educate, and entertain the public. The BBC was able to produce at least 10 projects with half of them debuting at major festivals including 1943 Berlin Blitz and Make Noise at Venice 2018, Nothing to Be Written at SXSW 2019, Dr Who: The Runaway at Tribeca 2019, and Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time at Venice 2019. The BBC recently summarized their lessons learned & production tips within a 64-page pamphlet titled “Making VR a Reality: Storytelling & Audience Insights 2019 (PDF).”

Zillah Watson was the Commissioning Editor for Virtual Reality for the BBC VR Hub, and I’ve seen her a lot on the festival circuit this past year with new projects at each of them. I had a chance to catch up with her at the IDFA DocLab where we talked about what makes a great VR story including: “the experience heightens presence, there is an emotional charge, the story is spatial, the viewer is more than a spectator, there’s a taste of the impossible, it invites meaningful interactions, go beyond the visual.”

Watson also talked about how the BBC collaborated with 160 different libraries around the UK by setting them up with VR equipment, and showing a number of their pieces of premium immersive storytelling content that they produced over that past couple of years. They recently published a blog post containing some of the survey results from over 1200 people, and they found “96% told us they found the experience enjoyable; 92% wanted to try more VR and also said they would talk about their experience to other people; 70% were inspired to learn more about the subject they’d seen.”

It wasn’t the technology that was drawing them in, but rather the storytelling content that made them feel compelled to share their experiences with others. They also found that showing VR at libraries had shifted their perspective of what libraries could be. They started to regard them “more as community hubs rather than quiet places for study, a place for trialing new tech, and generally future thinking rather than old fashioned.”

The consumer market for VR is still ramping up, and so the BBC VR Hub is taking a pause from operating at full capacity. But Watson said that the BBC is going to continue to experiment with creating immersive content in co-production with ARTE and Atlas V, and hopefully they’ll continue to provide new premium VR content to the libraries around the UK as a form of adhoc LBE distribution. Based upon what we’ve seen from the BBC over the last couple of years, then I’m sure that we’ll be seeing them again as the distribution channels continue and market adoption of VR headsets continues to grow. But in the meantime, be sure to check out their very useful “Making VR a Reality: Storytelling & Audience Insights 2019 (PDF)” pamphlet that summarized their lessons learned over the past couple of years.

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Music: Fatality

mit-open-doc-lab

william-uricchio
The MIT Open Documentary Lab held it’s first official event back on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 a day-long summit called “The New Arts of Documentary.” Part of the MIT Open Doc Lab’s mission is to bring “storytellers, technologists, and scholars together to explore new documentary forms with a particular focus on collaborative, interactive, and immersive storytelling.”

William Uricchio is the Founder & Principal Investigator of the MIT Open Doc Lab, and he’s got a background in painting, philosophy, and a Ph.D. in film where he’s studied new communications mediums in the phase before they’ve crystallized into commonly accepted standards for the affordances, language, and uses for storytelling. So he’s particularly interested in tracking the evolution of immersive storytelling potential within virtual reality.

I had a chance to catch up with Uricchio at the IDFA DocLab 2019 where we talk about a number of the open questions that the MIT Open Doc Lab is currently investigating, a little bit about how virtual reality fits relative to other mediums from a Comparative Media Studies perspective, and some of the challenges he sees for virtual reality. There hasn’t been a consensus about what language to use from and which theoretical scopes work best when talking about virtual reality experiences as it’s pulling insights from film, video games, theater, immersive theater, literature, web design, magic, audio tours, performance art, and psychogeography.

We have a brief debate as to whether 360 video should be considered VR, and there are a number of other points of disagreement that I elaborate on in my takeaways at the end of the podcast interview related to whether or not the immersive technology stack is stable enough to build critical frameworks on top of.

Other things worth calling out here in the show notes is the Ph.D. paper by Deniz Tortum on Embodied Montage in Virtual Reality. Uricchio also mentioned the film semiotics scholar Christian Metz who has done a lot of pioneering work in showing how film can be seen as a language. There’s still a lot of work being done in trying to determine how much of the cinematic vocabulary is present or absent within VR, and overall Uricchio is also really excited about the many potentials of telling data stories with AR that are overlaid a specific geographic context.

Overall, the MIT Open DocLab is doing a lot of great work in this space, and there’s also quite a bit of overlap with the work they’re doing and the work I’m doing here with the Voices of VR podcast. They’ve been publishing quite a bit of articles and information on their Immerse News Medium hub covering what’s happening in the immersive storytelling space with XR and AI. There’s a great interactive white paper called Moments of Innovation that helps to contextualize the history and evolution of different communication modalities. They’re keeping a database of innovative interactive and immersive documentaries at Docubase. The Co-Creation Studio is a new initiative to look at the collaborative production of documentary content. Finally, there’s a page with all of the MIT Open Doc Lab’s research since it’s beginning in 2012.

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Music: Fatality

arte-360

kay-meseberg
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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Music: Fatality