A Machine for Viewing was a series of three film essays that were shown to someone in virtual reality, whose first-person perspective was then projected onto the Egyptian movie theater screen at Sundance with a crowd who was watching the film essays through the eyes of the one person in virtual reality. There were embodied interactions that the person in VR would perform, and so the audience member became a performer who’s interactions would slightly modulate what the rest of the audience would get to see. So the embodied interactions of the viewer could shift the aspect ratio of the film, which was a film essay about the evolution of aspect ratios throughout the history of film.

There are many layers of Inception-like meta-analysis of using VR to watch someone watch a film essay in VR about the evolution of communications mediums while watching how the new VR medium can simultaneously modulate the individual and collective experience of said media. A Machine for Viewing was a collaborative project between VR artist and VRTOV creative director Oscar Raby, educator, filmmaker, and “virtual reality tourist” Richard Misek, and documentary filmmaker and “guest/visitor to VR” Charlie Shackleton. I had a chance to talk with the three lead artists just after their final screening at Sundance 2020 to explore what film can learn from VR, and what VR can learn from film.


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Music: Fatality

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