The film, a unique hybrid of real-time virtual reality (VR) experience, live performance and documentary has been selected for the festival as part of its New Frontiers programme.
The concept of the production is that ‘film’, in its broadest sense, transcends the technologies used to create it and the platforms used to view it. Taking inspiration from experimental filmmaker Peter Kubelka, the film creates a cinematic experience by blending traditional cinema, virtual reality and physical audience participation. With a total runtime of approximately 25 minutes, the project is split into three episodes. Dr Misek co-produced the entire piece and directed episode two, A Pillow of Light.
Explaining A Pillow of Light, Dr Misek said: ‘This section lets participants experience cinema exclusively through VR. It begins by asking individuals how closely to the cinema screen they prefer to sit, before using VR to test different viewpoints. We then invite viewers to the front row, where the image seen through the headset will gradually pixelate and dissolve into light before individuals have a direct connection with the screen. The closer that individuals approach the screen, the more submerged they can become in the VR. As part of the overall delivery of A Machine for Viewing, the episode demonstrates how the viewer holds the key to their own immersion. This has been a particularly exciting project to work on and I am delighted it has been selected for Sundance.’
Dr Misek co-produced A Machine for Viewing with Oscar Raby, Creative Director of Virtual Reality Studio VRTOV, and co-directed it with Raby and Charlie Shackleton, whose film Fish Story won the 2017 BIFA award for Best British Short Film. The project was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, and forms the final outcome of Dr. Misek’s AHRC Follow-on for Impact grant ‘Cinema Unframed: exploring the screen in virtual reality’.
A Machine for Viewing will be shown Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 January, at 21.30 in the Egyptian Theatre at Sundance. It will also be exhibited as a standalone installation, with full real-time interactivity and pre-recorded narration, in the Studio 3 Gallery at the School of Arts in May. More information can be found here: www.sundance.org/projects/a-machine-for-viewing