We’ve seen the features—all of them—and the lineups for the new Indie Episodic section as well as the Shorts and Special Events. Today, the Sundance Film Festival, whose 2018 edition runs from January 18 through 28, presents the lineup for New Frontier, promising “some of the most innovative independent production and experimentation at the crossroads of film, art and technology that is being created today.” With descriptions from the festival:
Films and Performance
★. Austria. Lead Artist: Johann Lurf. This film, compiling shots of clear night-time 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. Directors and screenwriters: Sam Green and Joe Bini. Producers: Janet Cowperthwaite, Sam Green, and Josh Penn. 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. Cast: David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, and Sunny Yang.
Deep Astronomy and the Romantic Sciences. U.S.A. Director and screenwriter: Cory McAbee. Producers: Cory McAbee, Daryle Conners, Steve Holmgren, and Richard Cole. 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. Cast: Cory McAbee.
Organ Player. U.S.A. Director and screenwriter: Narcissister. 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 them to create the masked, erotic performance character Narcissister. Cast: Narcissister, Sarah Lumpkin, Oscar Lumpkin, Bernard Lumpkin, and Carmine Boccuzzi.
The image at the top of this entry is from Experience Realistic Touch in Virtual Reality. U.S.A. Lead Artists: Andrew Mitrak, Greg Bilsland, Joe Michaels, and Jake Rubin. Key Collaborator: Dr. Bob Crockett. 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.
Awavena. U.S.A, Australia, and Brazil. Lead Artist: Lynette Wallworth. Key Collaborators: Nicole Newnham, Tashka Yawanawa, and Laura Soriano de Yawanawa. 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. Cast: Hushahu Yawanawa, Tata Yawanawa, and Mutum Community.
Frankenstein AI: A Monster Made by Many. U.S.A. Lead Artists: Lance Weiler, Nick Fortugno, and Rachel Ginsberg. Key Collaborators: Nick Childs, Hunter Owens, Brandon Powers. 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.
TendAR. U.S.A. Lead Artists: Samantha Gorman, Danny Cannizzaro. 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
Zikr: A Sufi Revival. U.S.A. Lead Artists: Gabo Arora, John Fitzgerald, and Matthew Niederhauser. Key Collaborators: Selim Bensedrine, Igal Nassima, Jennifer Tiexiera, and Wilson Brown. 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.
Elastic Time. Switzerland. Lead Artist: Mark Boulos. Key Collaborators: Robin Mange, and Javier Bello Ruiz. 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. Cast: Tony Stark.
Hero. U.S.A. Lead Artists: Navid Khonsari and Vassiliki Khonsari. Key Collaborators: Brooks Brown, Mark Harwood, and Sinclair Fleming. 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. Cast: Masoume Khonsari, Perla Daoud, Samer Sakka, Sam Sako, Said Faraj, and Sue Shaheen.
VR_I. Switzerland. Lead Artists: Gilles Jobin, Caecilia Charbonnier, and Sylvain Chagué. Key Collaborators: Jean-Paul Lespagnard, Carla Scaletti, and Camilo De Martino. 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. Cast: Susana Panadés Diaz, Victoria Chiu, Diya Naidu, Gilles Jobin, and Tidiani N'Diaye.
BattleScar. U.S.A. and France. Lead Artists: Martin Allais and Nico Casavecchia. Key Collaborators: Arnaud Colinart, Raphael Penasa, Andrew Geller, and René Pinell. 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.
DICKGIRL 3D(X). United Kingdom. Lead Artist: Sidsel Meineche Hansen. Key Collaborator: James B Stringer. 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, and 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. Lead Artists: Pete Billington and Jessica Shamash. Key Collaborators: Edward Saatchi, Saschka Unseld, Jennine Willett, and Zach Morris. All is not as it seems when eight-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. Cast: Elisa Davis, Elizabeth Carena, and Cadence Goblirsch.
Chorus. U.S.A. Lead Artist: Tyler Hurd. Key Collaborators: Chris Milk, Megan Ellison, and Justice. 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
Dinner Party. U.S.A. Lead Artists: Charlotte Stoudt, Laura Wexler, and Angel Manuel Soto. Key Collaborators: Rachel Skidmore, Bryn Mooser, and Erik Donley. 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. Cast: Malcolm Barrett and Sarah Sokolovic.
Dispatch. U.S.A. Lead Artist: Edward Robles. A small-town police dispatcher faces the greatest challenge of his career during an all-night crime spree. Cast: Martin Starr, Julianna Guill, Graham Shiels, Beth Grant, Samuel Stricklen, and Kelly Jenrette.
Eyes in the Red Wind. South Korea. Lead Artists: Sngmoo Lee, Jongmin kim, and Youngsam Jung. Key Collaborators: Jaehyun Park, Myuonggoo Ji, and Youngsik Yu. 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. Cast: Sungmi Kim, Jaehyun Kim, Jeongmi Lee, and Nara Kim.
Masters of the Sun. U.S.A. Lead Artists: will.i.am, apl de ap, and Taboo. Key Collaborators: Pasha Shapiro, Ernst Weber, Sara Ramaker, and Eddie Axley. 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. Cast: Rakim, Queen Latifah, Jason Isaacs, Stan Lee, KRS-One, and Slick Rick.
Micro Giants. China. Lead Artist: Yifu Zhou. Key Collaborators: Teng Wang, Shuyi Qiao, and Jia Zhang. 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. Cast: Pantawit Kiangsiri.
On My Way. U.S.A. Lead Artist: Yung Jake. Key Collaborators: Mike Rosenstien, Ari Kuschnir, and Andrew Schwartz. In a Tesla, multiple Yung Jakes rap about money, cars, drugs and things of that nature, among interactive elements. Cast: Yung Jake.
Space Explorers: A New Dawn. Canada and U.S.A. Lead Artists: Paul Raphaël and Felix Lajeunesse. Key Collaborators: Morgan Spurlock, Ryan Horrigan, and Stéphane Rituit. 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. Cast: Jeanette Epps, Jessica Meir, Victor Glover, and Michael Gernhardt.
The Sun Ladies VR. U.S.A. Lead Artists: Maria Bello, Celine Tricart, and Christian Stephen. Key Collaborators: Wesley Allsbrook, Tim Gedemer, and Mark Simpson. 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. Cast: Maria Bello.
The Summation of Force. Australia. Lead Artists: Narelle Autio, Trent Parke, and Matthew Bate. Key Collaborator: Anton Andreacchio. 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. Cast: Jem Autio Parke and Dash Autio Parke.
Your Spiritual Temple Sucks. Taiwan. Lead Artist: John Hsu. 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. Cast: Ctwo, Sun Ke-Fang, Han Chang, Andy Tsai, Wei Hao Tseng, and Liu Kuan-Ting.
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