Pittsburgh’s Art && Code returns with a much-needed consideration of “new and independent visions for VR, MR, and AR.” Taking place from Oct 6-9th, and deliriously titled WEIRD REALITY, the four-day symposium gathers many of the best and brightest (and strangest, obviously) working in and at the fringes of immersive media.
From the venture capital firms scrambling to fund VR studios like Felix & Paul and Within, to the film industry and festival circuit’s (at times hard to bear) fumbling attempts to figure out where VR fits into the cinematic tradition, to the arrival of first generation consumer headsets on the market – this is indeed the moment for a critical stocktaking of VR. WEIRD REALITY “aims to showcase independent and emerging voices, creative approaches, diverse and oftentimes marginalized perspectives, and imaginative and critical positions on VR/MR/AR that depart from typical tech fantasies and other normative, corporate media.”
All this amped up rhetoric is not hyperbole, either. With keynotes from luminaries (Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Brenda Laurel, Michael Naimark, and Vi Hart), artist talks from across the media art and immersive media spectrum (Robert Yang, Jeremy Bailey, Key Perlin, LaJuné McMillian), and workshops on emerging hardware and frameworks (HoloLens, Daydream, DepthKit) WEIRD REALITY will undoubtedly be quite the place for cultivating insight on these new and emerging mediums.
CAN is excited to be making a small contribution to WEIRD REALITY – we’ve organized a panel discussion on critical perspectives on embodied storytelling. Speakers include Ali Momeni (CMU School of Art), Milica Zec (Independent VR Filmmaker), Omer Shapira (nVidia), Sarah Rothberg (Samsung Accelerator), and Yasmin Elayat (Scatter), and these participants have been invited to share polemics based on filling in the blank in the following sentence: Content in VR is _____. The session will be moderated by CAN contributor Greg J. Smith, and take place on the Saturday afternoon of the festival (2:30 PM) – join us for rants and bring some tough questions of your own.
Running parallel to Art && Code is VIA Festival, a bold art and music festival that mixes performance and creation while fluidly moving across genres. With music showcases focused on future and/or “inverted” club sounds (Rabit, Juliana Huxtable, Chino Amobi), new and old school rappers (Junglepussy, Rakiim), noise and power music, and local house and techno producers and DJ, the music programming is all over the map. Add in some creative coding and music tech workshops, and an exhibition that features 18 VR experiences from WEIRD REALITY roster of participants and the two programs will make for four very busy days.
For lack of space we have only provided a handful of names of the many great folks participating in WIERD REALITY – see the full schedule for details – it really does seem unbelievably promising, and quite vital given the pervasive market driven machinations of the current VR gold rush. Hopefully we’ll see you in Pittsburgh in two weeks.
Reminder: CAN members who want to attend the event, we have access to a few steeply discounted tickets – check the member dashboard for details.
Weird Reality | VIA Festival
Lead photo by Kyle McDonald