Virtual Reality And The Arts

June 7 to 15 in Hamburg, Germany, VRHAM! will be underway as Germany’s first Virtual Reality and arts festival. This year the official selection at VRHAM! includes a number of multimedia projects as the festival introduces VRHAM! Live for their second annual event.

This year’s selections for the Live Program focus on experiences that bring together an audience to be simultaneously immersed in performances that combine real and virtual world dynamics. The band Miro Shot presents CONTENT– a VR live immersive concert, Meet Juliet, Meet Romeo presents a Virtual Reality performance of the traditional story by William Shakespeare, and Let’s VRHAM! Together as the festival’s first very own production presents an impromptu live music ensemble to soundtrack an audience’s visual journey in VR.

By looking at the relationships between performers, materials, technology and the audience in live acts, artists are concerned with the harmony of these interactions. Structural changes to each dynamic and new categorical applications of technology have throughout time proven that the stage is a platform for innovation.

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Miro Shot will kick off the program as the first band to tour a live immersive concert. They bring VR to audiences around the world with a multi-disciplinary, collaborative and collective approach that encourages accessibility and participation in the movement towards immersive entertainment. The Miro Shot Collective, the open source part of the band is comprised of musicians, coders, designers, projection mapping artists, VR artists, motion designers and other talents who are either new or established in their respective fields. Anyone can join. The show is a 30 minute immersive experience in VR that uses tech from haptics to olfactory engineering to design a fully immersive environment. In this show the band takes their audience on a journey between reality and the virtual world of the music itself. Miro Shot is looking at new applications for technology in entertainment, gaming, and overall immersive design.

Unlike consumer facing tech based enterprises, artists such as Miro Shot are able to present experimental works to their audience. In this sense, these multidiscplinary and collaborative shows are like scifi features and a window into the future of technology and collective design. As an early example, it was theater and dance performances experimenting with light and color in line with choreography that were first ideations of the light and music shows we take for granted today at massive EDM festivals.

Let’s VRHAM! Together, where musicians perform live to the visuals of two virtual reality experiences without having ever seen them before, is a sonic interpretation of the digital realm as the performance merges the virtual and live in an impromptu session. Thirty people can participate in this live ensemble at one time, and the experience lasts 30 minutes.

The excitement surrounding VR and AR within the industry is palpable. We all talk about growing consumer adoption and use cases- but without LBE, festivals and events, consumers aren’t aware of the uses cases of VR/AR and the risk for entry is at a steep cost even as the Oculus Quest enters the market. Let’s VRHAM! Together demonstrates the new ways we can interact with digital and live performances in a context that an audience can easily relate to.

Meet Juliet, Meet Romeo is a Virtual Reality theater experience based on the original play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. It is performed to two audience members at one time and lasts 45 minutes. In this version of the theater performance, the developers Björn Lengers and Marcel Karnapke (the Cyber Robbers) provide new insights into the classical piece as guests immerse themselves in the colorful world of a masked ball. In this close-up VR experience, the audience watch Romeo and Juliet on their first encounter with one another and as the tragedy unfolds.

It’s easy to forget that artists face the same competitive market as corporate giants, and therefore they must also continue to experiment and innovate to stay relevant. Festivals such as VRHAM!, just as conferences and exhibitions,  connect artists with their audience, the audience with technology, and both artists and their audience to new technology and opportunity to design the future of immersive experience and our digital world.

Tickets for the festival are available here.

By Anne McKinnon

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