NFB XP | Back from the Future
* This post is a translation. Read the original French post here.
A look back at the NFB XP round table at the Phi Centre Phi during the MUTEK festival: this panel served as a follow-up to a creation and dialogue workshop on the major themes surrounding virtual reality and augmented reality.
With the aim of celebrating parity within the Film Board, the NFB gathered together talented women who work in documentary film, theatre, video games and performance and asked them to collaborate and reflect on the major issues raised by this newcomer to the creative world. A few days after the exclusively female workshop, the participants presented a panel open to the public that summarized the issues addressed.
“It was very complementary,” explained Patricia Bergeron, interactive works programmer at RIDM and RVCQ. “There were women from the disciplines of performance, music, technical geeks, designers and producers like myself.”
With a wealth of documentary experience, Patricia Bergeron initially wanted to distance herself from these themes, but ultimately, this passion caught up with her anyway. “I paired off with Clara Garcià Fraile from Me and the Machine and we reflected on the concept of documentary film,” she explained.
The meeting helped the two creators think about the concept of the self in augmented reality documentary film. “Generally, in virtual reality documentary projects, we are asked to do what I call social tourism. We arrive in a refugee camp. We observe. And in other projects, I am asked to be someone else. But I can’t. I can only be me. I can’t go beyond myself. I can’t become someone else.”
As the discussions continued, documentary film and theatre came together. “We started to use a language much closer to the theatre. Very quickly, we were no longer talking of virtual reality helmets but of masks. Virtual reality has more in common with theatre, staging and movement than with cinema.”
Virtual reality is not some mysterious entity to the women on the panel. Since they have the technical experience with VR, it was no longer about dreaming of the technical possibilities, but rather about shaping the responsibility of creators and society in the framework of a reality that can be quite upsetting.
Many people have never put on the helmet or have tried it only once. There is a lot of buzz around virtual reality, and we spoke with people who try, who fail, who experiment. There was some maturity in relation to the subject. Around the round table, American director Céline Tricart said that the image and the immersion plant themselves inside your head, you live it. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves about the images we want to put there, as creators and as a society.
Céline Tricart used the example of horror films. Even though she is a fan of the genre in film, in virtual reality it is a completely different experience, one that could prove traumatizing.
For me, I have to ask myself how we are going to show reality in documentary film. How far do we want to go in presenting reality? As artists, as creators, we have to ask ourselves these questions starting now.
Here are some photos of the NFB XP workshop:
Claire Hentschker and her working group
Brigitte Poupart, Patricia Bergeron and their working group
Karen Vanderborght, Karen Palmer and their working group
Martin Viau and Celine Tricart help a participant with a VR helmet