Milo Talwani (pronouns they/them) is a curator, and creative technologist who oversees the selection process for New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival. They’re also the technical coordinator for Tribeca Immersive, and they also help curate exhibition events such as the Robot Remix XR.
I talk with Talwani about the process and challenges of curating and selecting immersive projects for the New Frontier in collaboration with chief curator Shari Frilot. Throughput is always a challenge with location-based entertainment experiences, but especially at Sundance where there’s a lot more people than capacity to be able to screen all of the work (I approximated the throughput for each of the Sundance experiences in my real-time Twitter coverage.)
There are only a couple of viable solutions to the throughput issue. Talwani says that either Sundance curates less pieces, or they find additional funding to support expanding out to multiple locations in order to show the existing selection to more people. It’s an impossible tradeoff, and the Sundance staff has preferenced showing a wide diversity of content that they find worthy rather than attempting to expand out the screening capacity to increase the numbers who can see the work.
These capacity limitations have inspired Talwani to collaborate with Paisley Smith in curating their own show that focused on one hour of XR content, and that a ticket buyer would be able to see all of the work that was shown. Here are Smith’s Robot Remix XR field notes reporting on their intentions and lessons learned from this experiment.
Another key feature of Sundance screenings are the installations, and Talwani describes the increasing importance of onboarding and offboarding, and how this is a key consideration for submitting to Sundance. The New Frontier is attempting to create a liminal space of exploration, and so the transitions into and out of experiences is a key factor for the overall program of experiences that they’re curating.
We also explore their journey into becoming an XR curator, the challenges around distribution of Location-based entertainment, some of their favorite experiences, the dream of immersive themselves into a VR experience with interactive characters for an extended period of time, and some of the themes and trends from the 2020 slate of experiences at the Sundance New Frontier.
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Here’s a trailer of the Robot Remix XR exhibition that ran at the Sp[a]ce Gallery in Pasadena, California every weekend starting on Saturday, July 6th until September 8th, 2019
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