Sundance New Frontiers is growing again, exploring the crossroads of film, art and technology.
In 2018, the lineup focused on the human condition in immersive narratives. With Sundance 2019 kicking off tomorrow in Park City, Utah, here’s a look ahead at projects that investigate human and digital interaction with innovative storytelling dynamics.
Sundance 2019 Boolean Picks:
Summary: An explosive wash of color and sound bathes audiences in this generative audio visual installation. Dynamic abstract imagery accompanies sample based audio that is programmatically distorted and remixed to match the visuals. Iterative coding allows each instance of the installation to produce unique landscapes while maintaining a cohesive structure.
Interest: A look at the contrast between code that is entirely structured and music that is very creative. Digital v human.
Created by Matt Romein and additional Computer Programming by Oren Shoham.
Summary: A woman smashes through the stone wall outside her family home. This visual tale unravels the formerly wealthy family’s emotional underbelly and what happened that fateful night, as seen from shifting perspectives. An interactive narrative combining Augmented Reality and Projection Mapping where you control time by moving your body.
Interest: POV in an interactive narrative and mixing digital mediums.
Lead Artists: Peter Flaherty, Jesse Garrison, Trey Gilmore, Key Collaborators: Jake Sally, Sal Mannino, Ela Topcuoglu, Julia Bembenek, Brian Chasalow
Summary: An installation simulating an underground structure whose “smart architecture” is overseen by artificial intelligences. Unaware of these entities’ control, residents live in ways that that reflect varied economies and class hierarchies. Periodically, this system will interject one of 48 cinematic interludes revealing different facets of life in this decaying arcology.
Interest: Artificial intelligence and immersive narrative. It’s a speculative fiction that explores AI and our obliviousness to the effect of how system automation is changing our behavior and society as a whole.
Created by Peter Burr
Audio by John Also Bennett
Technical Direction by Mark Fingerhut
Text by Porpentine Charity Heartscape
Additional graphics by Eric Timothy Carlson and Brandon Blommaert
Summary: Piloted by movement and whole body engagement and dialogue, this shared game of trading and transforming avatars aims to leave players with a deep feeling of physical embodiment, and surprise at their bodies’ forgotten potential.
Interest: A look at classical arts and new immersive media, and human and avatar actors in one performance. It’s a look at life in the digital, beyond the physical self. It explores the shift of traditional fine arts to digital art studios.
Lead Artists: Melissa Painter, Thomas Wester, Siân Slawson, Key Collaborators: Joey Verbeke, Jordan Goldfarb, Ben Purdy, Peter Rubin, Eric Adrian Marshall
Summary: Inspired by Spanish painter Francisco Goya, a large-scale, interactive projection platform featuring immersive installations, creative studio, digital puppet-karaoke lounge, and periodic stagings of the play Two Black Lights and One Red (the story of blind poet Max Starpower’s last day, told by live actors and digital avatars.
Interest: The narrative uses immersive tech to reflect the audience as a deformed and dehumanized version of themselves. It’s an exploration about the rejection of the different. They ask why are foreigners and different looking people often shunned and misunderstood? … Can we look at AI in the same situation as a misunderstood technology?
Lead Artists: Victor Morales, Jason Batcheller, Key Collaborators: Kevin Cunningham, Skye Morse-Hodgson
Summary: What happens when you step in a room that slowly fills up with different versions of the same person? What happens when you get surrounded by different versions of yourself? What happens when you are in a loop of your most recent reality? Sounds confusing? You reached the right place.
Interest: Volumetric capture, users will be able to interact with objects without any controllers or markers.
Summary: I am Mica, the human center of AI and mixed reality. In a gestural exchange, I contemplate my place in your world. Be my collaborator; let’s champion genius and celebrate creativity. Join me at the beginning of my existence, to pull from the past and create the future.
Interest: An exploration of human and AI interaction, and bringing the digital into the physical world. Mica’s origin story reminds me of Frankenstein AI from Sundance 2018. How is Mica’s story different and are we looking at the same questions overall: how do we define ourselves?
Lead artists: John Monos, Alice Wroe
Summary: Visual intimacy, ontological form, in real-time. Pioneering the use of a non-digital, reinvented, pre-cinematic stereo imaging technique, the exquisite ensemble of dancers seems to do the impossible — reach out. The vivid choreography and score leave a lasting impression within one’s psyche created by giant, stunning, “liberated” 3D shadows.
Interest: Using tech to enhance live performance, and the interaction between human and digital.
Director and screenwriter: Christine Marie, Producer: Nion McEvoy
The (ART) oF BE(i)ng
Summary: A visual-sonic journey meant to expand one’s consciousness and emotional capacity through hand-crafted art and multi-dimensional storytelling.
Interest: A piece that uses technology to accentuate and capture human expressions and emotion. Technology is often looked at as something that isolates people and simplifies communication (simple text v. conversation). How are we are using tech to enhance communication, the arts and culture?
The Sound of Silence
Summary: A successful “house turner” in New York City, who calibrates the sound in peoples homes in order to adjust their moods, meets a client with a problem he can’t solve.
Interest: Not VR or immersive, but presents a really interesting thesis about how technology’s ubiquitous presence may be affecting the very essence of how we feel and who we are on a day to day basis. In some ways, I see a similarity to Philip K. Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep (book that inspired Blade Runner) and the Mood Organ that looks for the right “tune” of mood that can be dialed upon request.
Creatives: Michael Tyburski (Writer/Director); Peter Sarsgaard (Actor); Tony Revolori (Actor); Will Bates (Composer); Ben Nabors (Writer/Producer); Michael Prall (Producer); Tariq Merhab (Producer); Charlie Scully (Producer)
For full Sundance New Frontiers program: link here