This May- June marked the 4th edition of the IX Immersion, Experience, Embodied Spaces Symposium at Montreal’s own SAT. The symposium focussed on the idea and application of “embodied spaces”, interactivity, “live” VR, VR auteurship, mixed reality, the hyper sensorial body and body responsive technologies.
As a whole, the symposium concentrated primarily on industry and technical components of VR, this focus on the technical served to demonstrate how VR can be applied into “real world” experiences such as architecture and design, as well as applications within health and science spheres. The daytime events were workshops, presentations and organized talks with guest speakers, as well as installations that were positioned throughout the symposium that highlighted VR artworks. Closing each day were a series of performances of multichannel audio and visual works made by the symposium presenters in the SAT dome.
Approaching the lines of artistry was the concept of “VR Auteurship”, a concept seemingly founded by Felix and Paul Studio. As such, the framework within their studio approaches VR as cinematic experiences, and therefore follows many cinematic conventions such as the idea of the auteur. For Felix and Paul, VR serves as a tool to “break the wall” of the two streams of reality apparent within the cinematic apparatus. In the formation of their auteurship, Felix and Paul are admittedly influenced by filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu.
The demos “I am Afraid” by Maria Lantin and “Immersio” by Collectif Immersio were particularly dynamic, in their overt focus on the senses. I am Afraid, is an interactive visual interface used to explore the performative aspects of sound. Participants were invited to create poetic soundscapes by layering and deconstructing Lantin’s collection of words and sounds. Immersio presented itself as a hyper visual “ride”, often travelling via vortexes, its participants were thrown into ever-changing fast paced environments wherein the participants sense of gravity was frequently inverted.
A large proportion of this year’s symposium participants were men and professional members of the artistic community. Of note, Ghislaine Boddington was nominated as the best artist of the symposium for her work, talk and workshop using the audience as performers in her presentation of Body Data Space.