One of the most powerful explorations of embodiment at Sundance New Frontier 2020 was Metamorphic. The creators describe it as exploring the “ephemeral nature of the self by allowing participants to redefine their relationships to their own bodies, to the bodies of others, and to the environment they share.”

The visual aesthetic is quite amazing in this piece. I’ve already been a fan of Wesley Allsbrook’s Quill art work in Dear Angelica, Sun Ladies VR, and 30-Seconds of Gunfire, but there’s something different about how they created their own custom backend to be able to parse and reanimate the Quill brush strokes with more fidelity and responsive control.

The brush strokes are dynamically animated both within the world around you, but also within your own embodiment. There are actually multiple timelines of animation that are contingent upon your interactions with the world around you including other people. It’s ends up producing a cutting-edge exploration of context-dependent, embodiment that is able to cultivate entirely unique and novel social dynamics.

At Sundance 2020, I had a chance to sit down with the creative team of Sensorium co-founders John Fitzgerald & Matthew Niederhauser, artist & writer Wesley Allsbrook, and programmer Elie Zananiri. We talked about the need to create an infrastructure to facilitate the dynamic animation of art, the collaborative tensions that can come between the creative talent and the engineering implementers, the throughput challenges of location-based entertainment experiences like this, their next milestones and desired architecture for scaling up the viewing capacity by multiple orders of magnitude, new exhibition opportunities at the ONX Studio by Onassis USA and New Museum NEW INC, and the challenges associated with cultivating second-order, emergent social dynamics within an immersive experience.


Here’s the trailer for Metamorphic

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Music: Fatality

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