Thursday, May 6, 2021

Sundance Film Festival takes a giant leap into virtual reality

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At the New Frontier Gallery, every VR / AR / mixed media exhibition was displayed as a work of art. Switching to an individual part brings up an explanation as well as the requirements for viewing them. Some experiences, like 4 feet tall RV, which explores a wheelchair user’s high school sexual arousal, are only accessible with helmets. But many others, like the meditative 7 sounds, is accessible with a pair of headphones.

If you visit the New Frontier Gallery in VR, you can also look over its walls to see the Earth spinning beneath you. And as an Easter Egg, you can jump to the International Space Station in the distance. There you can see Space Explorers: the ISS experience, which was developed by VR studio Felix & Paul.

Overall, Sundance has 14 New Frontier shows this year. That’s less than half of what appeared last year, a sign that some creators are not ready to embrace a virtual festival. For viewers, however, the VR platform goes a long way in making Sundance more accessible.

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