Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Venice Film Festival showed that the metaverse can help WOC filmmakers


Like most film festivals, Venice’s main section was affected by small rumors, celebrity culture, and directors who cared more about being invited to Valentino parties than about watching movies and arguing about who spat on whom. On Venice Immersive Island, though, it was a very different story. The people who made it were nerdy and passionate about what they did. Due to the young age of the industry, there is more room for experimentation.

Ecegül Bayram, a young producer from the creative studio Institute of Time in Turkey, and Sjoerd van Acker, the studio’s founder, brought Elele to Venice Immersive. In Elele, you and another user can choreograph a dance using only your hands, and your movements will be tracked in real time. The dance takes place in a trippy 360-degree world with psychedelic colors and surrealist shapes. A famous musician named Max Cooper wrote an original techno score for the dance. Elele just shows how VR can give us experiences that movies can’t, especially when it comes to how we can interact with other people.

When we think about the metaverse outside of white, capitalist, and patriarchal boundaries or how it is shown to us in our newsfeeds, the possibilities could be more like an interconnected utopia. A group of women of color (WOC) who work in virtual reality (VR) are teaching young women how to take control of their technology and their futures. They are also busting myths about their field.

I stopped listening to men try to explain the metaverse to me a few months ago. I went to Venice Immersive, a branch of the Venice Film Festival that takes place in the metaverse, to get some wisdom. This year, the metaverse took over its own island, Lazzaretto Vecchio, to show off the different kinds of immersive art, such as XRChat, games, live action, and VR experiences. There was a huge program that included 43 projects from 19 countries. I think Venice Immersive is the most interesting and new part of the festival. It should have its own festival during the Venice Biennale (like art, film, dance, music, architecture and theatre do).

Once you get past the “metaverse’s” scary technology, there are a lot of new ways to tell stories, help people, and even do therapy. One of the many women in virtual reality who taught me this was Malaysian-British senior producer Anetta Jones. Jones has worked in documentary film before, so when The Guardian was looking for a producer to run their new virtual reality studio, he decided to take a chance. Jones quickly figured out how to tell stories by making it up as she went along. “When I first started making XR, I didn’t enjoy it,” she says. I took a lot away from Venice, mostly thanks to these women VR creators who spoke with such genuine excitement and enthusiasm about their projects, in their relatively uncharted field of VR. There is so much space for innovation, which goes to show the potential for unleashing more WOC creativity in a real – or rather, virtual – way.

Jones became well-known as the lead producer of May Abdalla’s Emmy-nominated narrative VR experience Goliath: Playing With Reality, which starred Tilda Swinton and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2021. She was drawn to virtual reality by how quickly it was getting better and how it had what she calls a “truly collaborative” community. Jones says that two badass WOC XR creators in the UK are the great May Abdalla from Anagram studio and Shehani Fernando, who I used to work with at The Guardian. This year, Jones’s latest work, FRAMERATE: Pulse of the Earth, a multi-channel video art installation, was shown for the first time at the Venice Film Festival. The directors try out 3D scanning, a method that is usually used to survey buildings in architecture. For the exhibition, the studio made a time-based kaleidoscope of landscapes by taking 3D time-lapse scans of different places in the UK that are going through gentrification and environmental change. I was most impressed by how the technology was used in a new way and by its ability to show how real data changes in landscapes, rather than just trying to show how these changes happen over time.

Even though the metaverse is mostly about data and cutting-edge technology, it is important to note that it can still have heart. In fact, it has given people of color the chance to share their unique experiences in a variety of new ways. On the Morning You Wake was made by Malaysian-American director Michaela Ternasky-Holland to make people more aware of how dangerous nuclear missiles are (to the End of the World). In the VR community, she is known for using shared stories to make “metaverse” experiences that have a positive effect on society. It involved working with Native Hawaiians in Hawaii and telling people what they could do to stop nuclear weapons from being used there. The film wants to have a real effect on those who see it because Ternasky is the Head of XR at Games for Change (G4C), an organization that uses XR technology for education, healthcare, and political action.

Ternasky-Holland says that her mentor, Laura Ruffin, has had a big impact on the work she does now to help people. Ruffin is the founder of CruxXR and the first group of Black artists to work together on immersive storytelling. CruxXR is an important tool for WOC who work in the metaverse. It backs up claims of ownership, collects grant and residency opportunities, gives tools for getting project funding, and does a lot more. “She would back me up when I told a client I didn’t like them,” I said. There are no questions. One of the most important things in my life has been being managed by someone as thoughtful, kind, and brave as Ruffin.

The metaverse has a lot of these important POC resources. Take Making a New Reality, a project by Kamal Sinclair, as an example. Sinclair wants to make VR more diverse and fair for people of color with her free online toolkit. There are also groups that focus on new media in a more general way, like AFROTECHTOPIA, where discussions are framed from a Black point of view. Fractal Fête, the annual school put on by AFROTECHTOPIA, is only open to Black people and has a goal of teaching. Twenty well-known Black cultural leaders in the digital world teach at this school. Annika Hansteen-Izora, Terence Nance, and Tahir Hemphill of RapResearchLab, who are all experts in digital art and research, have given talks in the past.

This plan to teach more people of color about the “metaverse” gives us a chance to take control of our own futures, security, data, and online lives. Empo(H)er Cybersecurity wants to make cybersecurity a more diverse field by giving WOC mentorship and job opportunities. Ternasky-Holland has stressed how important it is to teach WOC about cyber security. She sees it as urgent activist work. She tells me that it’s impossible to talk about technology without talking about security. Whistleblowers, activists, and organizers are needed to hold tech companies accountable for the data they collect, how they store it, how they use it, and who they give access to it. Ternasky-Holland says that virtual reality “can lead an access movement.” “My hope is that the metaverse moves forward with the democratisation of access—in and out of the digital reality.”
I took a lot away from Venice, mostly thanks to these women VR creators who spoke with such genuine excitement and enthusiasm about their projects, in their relatively uncharted field of VR. There is so much space for innovation, which goes to show the potential for unleashing more WOC creativity in a real – or rather, virtual – way.

Latest NFT News, Trendings and Tutorials, right in your inbox, every Monday

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: All content provided here in our website, hyperlinked sites, social media accounts and other platforms are for your general information only, procured from third party sources. We make no warranties of any kind in relation to our content. No part of the content that we provide constitutes financial advice, legal advice or any other form of advice meant for your specific reliance for any purpose. Any use or reliance on our content is solely at your own risk and discretion. You should conduct your own research, review, analyse and verify our content before relying on them.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *