Between April and November 2018 virtual reality creators, artists, thinkers and journalists from Canada and Germany are invited to connect, exchange knowledge, work together, and share their critical explorations on digital culture with the public. This exchange aims to invigorate the scenes in both countries by creating the ideal setting for networking, collaboration and co-production, while also rethinking the language and modes by which we engage both with VR and with the wider digital world.
Highlighting creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and vision, the Canadian VR scene has risen to international attention over the last five years - producing some of the most celebrated VR pieces and talents. Equally as prolific, but less well-known abroad, the German VR scene has also been expanding and exploring VR as a new medium, with application in a variety of fields including science, medicine and journalism. VR:RV intends to provoke conversations, and ultimately new concepts for VR-works, that challenge, expose, critique and problematize the digital society through issues such as artificial intelligence, algorithms, and digital democracy.
During the course of this 7-month project, twenty-five highly motivated, talented creative professionals from Germany and Canada gathered for intensive workshop sessions to develop potential co-productions, exchange knowledge and participate in public panels. At the first meeting in Montreal from April 11 – 13 during MUTEK_IMG, besides the stimulating public panels held at the Phi Centre, participants were placed into teams and worked intensively on developing ideas for co-productions. From this first encounter, five potential VR projects emerged, all developed by multi-disciplinary teams of Germans and Canadians. These projects, in various stages of development, vary in theme from artificial intelligence to the conflict in Syria. To cap off the Montreal segment, German guests had the opportunity to visit some of Montreal’s best VR studios, from Dpt. and Turbulent to the NFB to try out VR works and learn about the latest developments in Quebec.
The next stage of the exchange was in Berlin from May 2 – 4 where participants continued working on their co-production ideas, as well as participating on public panels at re:publica, the largest conference in Europe on digital society. This proved to be a stimulating experience and provided tremendous networking opportunities and visibility for the Canadian and German professionals, as over 10,000 international delegates attended the festival over three days. In addition, the Goethe-Institut and the Phi Centre joined forces to present an exhibition of Canadian and German VR works at Station Berlin which was met with great curiosity and enthusiasm by the re:publica delegates. As in Montreal, the Berlin stay concluded with a whirlwind day of studio visits for the Canadians to top-notch VR companies that included INVR, Sehsucht and Trotzkind.
For the final stage of VRRV in November 2018, to close off the official part of this exchange initiative and to further support future collaborations between the two countries, two VR:RV teams will present their projects on November 12 at an industry panel at Doc Circuit Montreal, the Montreal International Documentary Festival’s professional market. The teams will receive valuable, concrete feedback from international specialists with diverse experience in VR projects on how to bring these projects to the public. This November gathering will mark not only the final stage of the project, but also the continuation of many new fruitful collaborations and enduring friendships between those involved.
VR:RV is a project by the Goethe-Institut, realized with the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and curated by Samara Chadwick. Partners include: MUTEK_IMG, re:publica, the National Film Board of Canada, the Canadian Film Centre, ARTE Germany, Eye Steel Film, Mozilla Foundation, Doc Circuit Montréal (RIDM's industry event), the SODEC and Retune. The Canada Council for the Arts supported the first workshop in the series during MUTEK_IMG.
We would like to thank wholeheartedly all of our participants and partners for their invaluable commitment, interest and support over the course of this project.