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An Engaged Cultural Exchange Exploring the Future of Mixed-Reality Storytelling
It’s a critical time for cultural exchanges – exchanges that support conversations, creativity, knowledge, and growth. More necessary than ever, as we are coming to terms with life in semi-isolation and imagining re-entry into the “new normal.” A time when civil unrest due to social injustice is catalyzing reform, where impediments to travel are both medical and political. We are each charged with a responsibility, to be human.
Since the advent of digital technology and now new XR tech, the ability to tell our stories, engage friends, and strangers alike has never before been more important and powerful than as a tool for connecting to our humanity. To this end, we are launching The Montréal / Miami New Narratives Lab, a cross-cultural exchange between creative storytellers, organizations, and innovative technology industries, in pursuit of exploring the future of storytelling in augmented and mixed reality. It is also an opportunity to combine our efforts across the borders and continue the work of gender parity in the global tech industry.
The Montréal / Miami New Narratives Lab is a partnership between FilmGate Interactive—a Miami-based film, education, and digital arts festival, MUTEK—a Montréal-based electronic music and digital arts festival, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB)—Canada’s public film and digital media producer and distributor, and O Cinema—an independent first-run art house exhibiting and producing films and events in Miami. Industry partners include the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC)—Québec’s funding body for cultural industries, and Kaleidoscope—a XR community fund for artist grants, events, and networking.
The Montréal/Miami New Narratives Lab will take the form of workshops, conferences, and a call for creatives. The call for proposals will be announced as we scout for experienced cis, trans-women and non-binary creators with strong ideas and unique perspectives, who are based in Miami or in Montréal. This opportunity is for six creatives to create and develop a proof of concept ready to pitch to potential funders and co-producing partners. This lab will also proffer challenges present in the technology and thought experiments to evoke innovative ways of addressing them. Throughout the lab, they will work together on their project ideas, and receive mentorship and hands-on support from expert storytellers, technologists, and industry partners, including Magic Leap—a leading tech startup based in Florida, producing a wearable spatial computer that brings the physical and digital worlds together.
Maude Thibodeau has been creating interactive and engaging projects for more than 10 years. Her career as an art director and interactive experience designer led her to some of the top creative agencies in Montréal, including Sid Lee and Urbania Media. She has spent the last five years at Dpt., an innovative Montreal studio that explores the intersection of cinema and gaming, art and code, research and design. Her role allows her to be involved in the conception, design, writing, and art direction of a variety of immersive experiences. Whether she’s working on documentaries (The Enemy, Testimony, Roxham, These Sleepless Nights), at cultural organizations (AGAC, OSM, Cinémathèque Québécoise) or museums (GSM Projet, Musée de l’Énergie), or on entertaining projects (Passagers, Sherlock AR), her focus is developing strong, relevant and relatable narratives.
Mélanie O’Bomsawin uses video in all its forms. Born to one W8banaki parent and another one quebecois, she uses her installations, her documentaries and her projections to explore her connexion to the ones who were here before her and the ones who will come after.
Shonee Arroyo-Kreimes is a multidisciplinary video artist based in Montréal. Her practice involves animation and installation, through which she investigates the mimesis of technological and biological life forms by constructing virtual worlds that have their own digital ecologies. She holds a BFA in Film Animation from Concordia University, where she is currently an MFA candidate in Intermedia.
Fereshteh Toosi is an artist of Iranian and Azeri ancestry whose projects foster animistic connections through encounter, exchange, and sensory inquiry. Fereshteh lives and works in Miami, Florida, on Miccosukee, Seminole, and Tequesta land. Fereshteh designs experiences augmented by electronics, audio, video, and media transmissions. These intimate live-art events often take place outdoors in gardens, parks, and waterways. The immersive performances are produced in conjunction with sculptures, short films, installations, and poetry. Fereshteh is an Assistant Professor in the Art and Art History Department of the College of Communication, Architecture, and the Arts at Florida International University. Fereshteh earned The Ellies Creator Award from Oolite Arts in 2018 for Water Radio, a series of contemplative canoe and kayak outings. Find samples of the artwork at http://fereshteh.net.
Monica Lopez De Victoria is a Miami based multi-disciplinary artist and performer/choreographer in Artistic (Synchronized) Swimming. Graduating from Florida International With a BFA in Photography/Video in 2002, she has worked for two decades weaving these two art forms together. She is both Puerto Rican Latinx and Caucasian German/Swedish American.
Monica is investigating the rippling movements of emotional volume, supernatural connection, and optical illusions in the 4th and 5th dimensions. Her colorful geometric aquatic videos, performances,installations, augmented reality, costumes, textiles, and experiments visualize the unseen layers around us. Lately this translates through the dreamy hypnotic visual language of water, waves, and sunset color smears. Psychologists state that there is a transcending power in water, one that heals our bodies and minds when we are submerged. These ideas and the aesthetics of Art Deco, kitschy Florida beach life, pastels, the Everglades, mid-century tropical minimalism, Bauhaus theories, and Miami neon nights have influenced Monica’s work and life.
Olivia is a graduate of Hofstra University’s Film Studies/Production department and was the co-host of a talk show on film called The Screening Room at Hofstra’s radio station, WRHU. Her first experience on a film set was working as a production assistant on X-Men: New Mutants in Boston, MA. Since then, Olivia has expanded her scope to fine arts, working as an associate at a fine art gallery where she explored contemporary art curation, collections, and sales work. Her interest in augmented reality and artificial intelligence in the arts is a result of watching her inhumanly smart brother pursue his Ph.D. in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Olivia is about to pursue an education for a career in film preservation and restoration, while still learning and exploring generative adversarial networks and applications for augmented reality on the side.