Venture into the Metaverse on Venice Immersive Island


VENICE, Italy — At the Venice International Film Festival, virtual reality is only a small part of the immersive experience. On a small island a few minutes by river shuttle from the main festival headquarters on the Lido, festival-goers can enter the metaverse. They can play games, or “world hop” with a tour guide, dress up in costume with background dancers, or even help Coco Chanel develop her Chanel No. 5 perfume.

The program curated by Liz Rosenthal and Michel Reilhac runs from September 1-10 and offers a hands-on glimpse into the future of storytelling.

“It’s the biggest edition we’ve ever done,” Rosenthal said.

The forms have also evolved over the past two years when the virtual Venice program itself had to go virtual. So for this big return to Lazzaretto Vecchio, they also gave the program a new, more inclusive name: Venice Immersive.

“We wanted to refocus on how quickly the field is diversifying,” Reilhac said. “We didn’t want to focus on one technology like VR, but try to represent all kinds of different ways to provide an immersive experience.”

Of the 43 projects, only some require a VR headset. Some are massive 360 ​​degree installations and others offer a hybrid “mixed reality”.

One of their most ambitious ventures has been to commit to taking small groups around virtual worlds. Worlds is a general term that basically means a space where people can gather virtually – it could be a beach, a forest, a sci-fi fantasy space. In worlds, you can just hang out or do things like play mini golf or even train dogs, Reilhac explained. Like many things in Venice Immersive, worlds and around the world is something best experienced.

“Framerate: Pulse of the Earth” is one of the multi-screen installations on display that curators say show the potential of this art form. The project is focused on changing landscapes and made with 3D scanning technology.

“We aim to reveal the alterations to the planet that are caused by nature and are also caused by human-centric industries,” said “Framerate” director Matthew Shaw. “We see sites of destruction, of extraction, of habitation, we see harvesting, we see growth and we see erosion.”

To experience “Framerate,” the audience enters a darkened room where they are surrounded by screens that act as “holographic portals” into vast scenes, like a 200-foot cliff eroding and collapsing. in the sea for a year or a forest turning in 12 months. You can stand anywhere in the room, move around and choose what to focus on, be it the cliff or a single pebble.

The team working on the project captured these scenes in Norfolk and Glasgow, where they filmed daily for a year. It wasn’t, Shaw said, just someone setting up a camera and tripod and letting him film. And it took a lot of R&D and innovation to get there.

“We don’t just do artwork,” Shaw said. “We build the tools to make them work, too. Not only can we scan something in 3D at landscape scale, but can we scan it as it moves? »

Shaw is just one of the pioneers of new, immersive art forms on display at the festival. Another flagship project, “Rencontre(s)” by Mathias Chelebourg, with the voice of Marion Cotillard. The “multi-sensory haptic experience” invites you to step into the perfumer’s shoes in 1921 when Gabrielle Chanel met Ernest Beaux and they created Chanel n°5. ” called “Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom” which also features the voice of Cillian Murphy. Others are more serious, like “Stay Alive My Son”, in which the player puts himself in the shoes of a survivor of the Cambodian genocide.

Both Reilhac and Rosenthal hope festival moviegoers will venture to Immersive Island for some experimentation.

“No other premier festival in the world is so committed to representing immersiveness as a new art form,” said Reilhac. “By juxtaposing immersive arts with high-profile feature films, we elevate the perception of immersive arts as a true art form and not just a technological gimmick.”

At the moment, “there is no real market for immersive arts,” said Reilhac. The creators of Venice do it out of passion and curiosity. But he thinks that could change.

“It’s the birth of a new art form and perhaps a new industry,” he said.

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