New Frontier continues to push boundaries
As the intersection of art and technology grows more crowded, Sundance Institute showcases a curated collection of cutting-edge independent experimental media works by creators who are pushing the artistic development of the new mediums of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and artificial intelligence (AI). The 2018 edition of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival offers some of the most innovative independent production and experimentation at the crossroads of film, art and technology that is being created today.
New Frontier’s footprint at the Festival has continued to evolve, responsive to increased demand. This year, New Frontier programming encompasses three venues:
• The New Frontier Exhibition at Kimball Art Center will host immersive dance and cutting-edge VR & MR works as well as works involving AI.
• New Frontier at The Ray, where works will range from VR, MR, and AR to AI and new media technologies. The Box at New Frontier at The Ray, a 40-seat mobile VR cinema, will showcase four different mobile VR programs over the course of the Festival.
• The VR Bar at Music Cafe offers a selection of The New Frontier mobile VR program, plus world premieres of hot, late-breaking VR content created by some of the most exciting companies in the field.
According to Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer and Chief Curator, New Frontier, “This year’s artists push the boundaries of a host of new technologies in powerful and surprising ways. The story creates the body and the corpus takes on new meaning, offering a new framework for personal interactions in modern society.”
New Frontier alumni include Doug Aitken, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Milk, Nonny de la Peña, Pipilotti Rist and Jennifer Steinkamp. The Institute’s support extends well beyond its curated slate of Festival projects, and includes the annual New Frontier Story Lab, which offers mentorship and development opportunities for new media storytellers, New Frontier Day Labs in cities nationwide and the New Frontier Residency Program, which combines the might of partners such as MIT Media Lab’s Social Computing Group and Jaunt Studios to drive groundbreaking data visualization and VR storytelling tools, training and resources to independent artists.
NEW FRONTIER LINEUP
FILMS AND PERFORMANCE
Austria // This film, compiling shots of clear nighttime skies from throughout film history in chronological order, reveals that what humans may regard as an absolute image is actually quite unstable. This instability occurs not only of evolving technological parameters, but also as a result of period-specific trends in culture.
A Thousand Thoughts
U.S.A. // A live cinema portrait of the legendary classical music group the Kronos Quartet. Green narrates the film and Kronos performs the soundtrack live. A meditation on music itself–the act of listening closely to music, the experience of feeling music deeply, and the power of music to change the world.
Deep Astronomy and the Romantic Sciences
U.S.A. // A live sci-fi event, presented in the form of two master’s classes, featuring music, animation and artwork. Topics include the colonization of other planets, sentimentality reform, transdimensional drifting, the proper way to view the universe and the reason that humans exist.
Narcissister Organ Player
U.S.A. // This hybrid performance/documentary film explores how ancestral data is stored in our bodies, impacting the lives we lead. On the personal level, the film investigates how the artist’s complex family history compelled her to create the masked, erotic performance character Narcissister.
Experience Realistic Touch in Virtual Reality
U.S.A. // HaptX brings realistic touch to virtual reality for the first time. The innovative technology lets VR users feel the shape, movement, texture and temperature of digital objects. By providing advanced haptic feedback and natural interaction, HaptX enables unprecedented levels of realism in virtual experiences.
U.S.A, Australia, Brazil // The Yawanawa, an indigenous Amazonian people, see immersive technologies as tools they can co-opt to share their connected worldview. Inviting artist Lynette Wallworth to their community, the Yawanawa share the visions of Hushahu, their first woman Shaman, and our technology renders visible the luminous world they have always known
Frankenstein AI: A Monster Made by Many
U.S.A. // By challenging dystopian perspectives around artificial intelligence, this immersive experience reimagines Shelley’s seminal work to examine the cultural ramifications of pervasive, ubiquitous technology. Participants interact with an artificial intelligence, co-creating a shared narrative around the implications of unleashing this naive, intelligent “monster,” both mythical and imminent, into the world.
U.S.A. // A humorous and provocative installation that combines interactive storytelling, AR and emotion/face recognition technology to promote discussion about current topics in biometric data and artificial intelligence. Your guide: a fish-like creature who amusingly analyzes the partners collaborating in the experience, their emotions and the world around them.
VIRTUAL/MIXED REALITY INSTALLATIONS
Isle of Dogs Behind the Scenes
This virtual reality experience places the viewer inside the miniature world of Wes Anderson’s upcoming stop-motion animated film, face to face with the cast of dogs as they are interviewed on set, while the crew of the film works around you to create the animation you are seeing.
Zikr: A Sufi Revival
U.S.A. // This interactive social VR experience uses song and dance to transport four participants into ecstatic Sufi rituals, while also exploring the motivations behind followers of this mystical Islamic tradition, still observed by millions around the world.
Switzerland // A mixed reality interactive documentary about space-time, narrated by astronomer Tony Stark
(Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). A real-time hologram of your body is integrated into the observatory room; using the controllers, you bend space and time to your will, creating black holes, wormholes and time portals.
U.S.A. // An immersive, large-scale installation that explores humanity in our modern era of civilian warfare. In this vérité VR experience with multi-sensory engagement, participants embark upon their own primal journey. When everyday life is disrupted by profound crisis only human connection can inspire hope.
Switzerland // Blending art with technology, VR_I resulted from the encounter between Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin and the founders of Artanim, Caecilia Charbonnier and Sylvain Chagué. In this contemplative virtual dance piece, five spectators, immersed together and in real time, use avatars to investigate a performance among surprising effects of scale.
U.S.A., France // New York City, 1978: When Lupe, a Puerto Rican-American teen, meets fellow runaway Debbie, the Bowery’s punk scene and the Lower East Side are their playground. This coming-of-age narrative explores identity through animation and immersive environments as Lupe’s handwritten journals guide users through her year. Cast: Rosario Dawson.
United Kingdom // DICKGIRL 3D(X) is the non-binary version of EVA v3.0, an avatar purchased online and appropriated by the artist. Through DICKGIRL 3D(X), the viewer becomes a post-human pleasure-seeker in an encounter with a submissive clay-like sculpture.
SPHERES: Songs of Spacetime
U.S.A. // (Lead Artist: Eliza McNitt, Key Collaborators: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel, Jess Engel, Arnaud Colinart) — Dive into the heart of a black hole and uncover the hidden songs of the cosmos. In this interactive VR experience, the breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves transforms how we see the Universe. Fall into the darkness, and you will find the light.
Wolves in the Walls (Chapter 1)
U.S.A. // All is not as it seems when 8-year-old Lucy’s imagination proves to be reality. Help her discover what’s hiding inside the walls of her house in this immersive fable, based on the work by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, and choreographed by acclaimed immersive-theater company, Third Rail.
U.S.A. // Crystals, lasers, monsters, heroines. Transform into fantastical female warriors in this social virtual reality experience. Six people can band together to battle evil in this epic journey of empowerment, all orchestrated to the song “Chorus” by Justice.
MOBILE VR LINEUP
U.S.A. // A short virtual reality thriller that dramatizes the incredible story of Betty and Barney Hill, who in the 1960’s reported the first nationally known UFO abduction case in America.
U.S.A. // A small-town police dispatcher faces the greatest challenge of his career during an all-night crime spree.
Eyes in the Red Wind
South Korea // Friends and family members gather to throw a ‘soul scooping’ ritual, to pacify the soul of a drowned man. When a possessed shaman reveals the murderous truth behind the death on the table, lust and secrets come to the fore.
Masters of the Sun
U.S.A. // In 1983, Los Angeles was spared from utter destruction driven by an ancient evil. The ghetto became ground zero for drug epidemic that transformed citizens into soul-sucking zombies through Z-Drops, until a ragtag crew used one weapon to take their city back: hip-hop.
China // A computer-generated VR experience that gives an unprecedented and highly engaging perspective of insect life. When participants enter into the micro world, tiny flowers and insects in normal life now become mighty trees and beasts.
On My Way
U.S.A. // In a Tesla, multiple Yung Jakes rap about money, cars, drugs and things of that nature, among interactive elements.
Space Explorers: A New Dawn
Canada, U.S.A. // Experience the journey of NASA astronauts as they navigate the trials and sacrifices of their training and missions. An immersive VR experience that shines a light on mankind’s most ambitious endeavor to understand our planet, our universe and our origins.
The Sun Ladies VR
U.S.A. // An in-depth look at the personal journey of Xate Singali: from her roots as a famous singer in Kurdistan, through ISIS sex slavery, and to her new life as a soldier on the front lines as she starts a female-only Iraqi fighting unit called the Sun Ladies.
The Summation of Force
Australia // In a moonlit suburban yard, two brothers battle one another in a mythic game of cricket. A study of the motion, physics and psychology of elite sport; a cosmic, dreamlike and darkly beautiful metaphor for life.
Your Spiritual Temple Sucks
Taiwan // Mr. Chang arrives to his “Spiritual Temple,” a place that represents one’s destiny. To solve his marital crisis and financial problems, he summons his guardian–The Thunder God. They attempt to tidy his life, which turns out to be a big mistake…with hilarious consequences.