What’s on and what’s next for artists in the DocLab R&D Program

    As we warm up for another year of the IDFA DocLab R&D Program, our DocLab colleagues are currently processing the 200+ R&D proposals that artists around the world recently submitted. To tide you over in the meantime, we used this opportunity to catch up with some of the artists who participated in the program’s third year.

    Launched in 2018 in collaboration with MIT Open Documentary Lab, the R&D Program seeks to challenge the boundaries of traditional research and development frameworks. Since then, the global interactive and immersive network has been steadily coming together to discuss, support, experiment, adapt and innovate through the living lab of the festival, including the DocLab exhibition, live events, and various industry sessions.

    But the work hasn’t stopped there. As our 2020 program participants continue to respond to the challenges of this moment and share their knowledge abroad, some are also starting new conversations and collaborations, exploring the potential of new technologies and documentary forms. Without further ado, here’s a look at what some of our R&D artists have been up to since last year’s IDFA DocLab.

    Distance Disco
    Created by DuoDisco; Mark Meeuwenoord, Arjan Scherpenisse, Klasien van de Zandschulp and Frank Bosma (the Netherlands)
    In a time of social distancing and lockdowns, Distance Disco proved to be a very successful social online event during IDFA 2020. After the festival, the project travelled to Sundance and SXSW where festival goers enjoyed the digital matchmaking disco parties. You can still join the dance floor every Friday night, or create your own party. Distance Disco also received press attention from Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the US.

    The team is now developing a hybrid experience that invites a physical and online audience to dance with each other and create intimate moments of connection. The team’s goal is to design the ultimate embodied hybrid experience, as so many of us continue to shift between virtual and physical spaces. Stay tuned for pilot events in June!

    Echoes of Silence
    Created by Tamara Shogaolu, ADO ATO Pictures (the Netherlands)
    One of the winners of the the Film Fund DocLab Interactive Grant in 2020, Tamara Shogaolu premiered her audio experience with dome projections Echoes of Silence at the ARTIS-Planetarium during IDFA 2020. This full dome experience takes the viewer on a trip into space as seen from different viewpoints on Earth. Recently, Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art dived deeper with Tamara into the idea that the cosmos sounds differently depending on where you are in the world or your culture. MIT Open Documentary Lab director Sarah Wolozin also spoke to Tamara about the potential of pushing the boundaries of sound. As one of the DocLab Creative Covid Response Support winners, the ADO ATO Pictures team is currently exploring options to adapt the artwork to location-based experience that can tour.


    Created by Vincent Morisset, AATOAA (Canada)
    Presented with the National Film Board of Canada, Vincent Morisset’s team created a special live edition of the digital interactive experience Motto for IDFA 2020. Using thousands of ultra-short fragments of video from users all over the world, the project recounts the disappearance of a friendly spirit that continues to nourish itself from visitors’ participation following seasons and moods.

    The Canada Media Fund presented a case study of this remarkable piece “that plays freely with an infinity of possibilities on an ever-expanding web, where users are invited to become co-creators.” Motto continued to travel after IDFA, touching base at the JEF Festival in Belgium, the Elektra Virtual Exhibition at the Zero 1 Festival, and FIPADOC in France. Recently it won the Digital Dozen: Breakthoughs in Storytelling award presented by the Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab in recognition of the year’s most innovative narratives. You can still try Motto on your phone here.

    Oxygen Debt
    Created by Bart van de Woestijne (the Netherlands)
    This interactive and collective piece about mortality and the limits of the physical body was performed in an old nightclub-turned-spinning-studio during last year’s festival. In a hilarious twist of fate, the gym’s owner actually spotted one of the performing artists and approached them to become a real spinning instructor.

    This year, you can experience Oxygen Debt at Cement op Reis and Over het IJ Festival. Additionally, Bart has developed a version of Oxygen Debt for your home trainer, so you can virtually join the philosophical spinning class. Details coming soon.

    Created by Ziv Schneider (USA)
    Leading up to IDFA 2020, we witnessed on Instagram how virtual influencer Sylvia aged rapidly in the hands of artist Ziv Schneider. A project on themes like ageism, mortality, and simulated authenticity, Sylvia was added to the Virtual Humans database. “This is the most upsetting account on Instagram,” was one of the many comments Sylvia received, as Ziv recounted on Immerse. Variety, among other press outlets, dived into the phenomenon of this unconventional virtual influencer as well.

    The project is now developing in new directions that relate to ownership of virtual assets. One of the recipients of the IDFA DocLab Creative COVID Response Support scheme, the project will receive support to work on a performance that expands Sylvia’s story and auction off her assets. Sylvia was also included in the Digital Dozen: Breakthoughs in Storytelling award presented by the Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab in recognition of last year’s most innovative narratives. You can still find Sylvia’s profile on Instagram, where she continues to amass new followers.

    Created by Polymorf (the Netherlands)
    After pitching this performative, multi-sensory, and multi-user VR experience at the online DocLab Forum during IDFA 2020, Polymorf continued to develop the project futher and present it in different phases. At MU Eindhoven, they'll present a preview of the first two storylines via a COVID-proof experience. Discussing the different possibilities of presenting this project virtually, the team had to conclude that physicality was at the heart of this piece. They are now in talks with different film institutes, museums, theater festivals, and scientific partners to exhibit the project after the lockdown in a safe way.

    Virtual Crossings
    Created by Cie Gilles Jobin (France)
    The next stop for the international collaborative project Virtual Crossings is Shanghai and Melbourne. This project aims to connect clusters of artists to collaborate remotely and is studying further learnings from Geneva and Buenos Aires, where two dancers connected to dance together in real time despite the physical distance. Gilles is now experimenting with collaborative tools around motion capture with the hope that when we can connect physically again, our virtual encounters will still prove to be meaningful and here to stay.

    The Leaked Recipes Cookbook
    Created by Demetria Glace, David Desrimais, and Mathieu Cénac for JBE Books (France)
    The Leaked Recipes Cookbook is the offspring of the IDFA 2018 project Leaked Recipes, and the result of the subsequent collaboration with JBE books and photographer Emilie Blatz (co-creator of EAT | TECH | KITCHEN). A real cookbook with over 50 recipes from the world’s biggest e-mail leaks, the project contains “secret barbecue sauce” recipes from companies like Enron and Sony and plenty of insight into office culture, politics, corruption, hacking, family, and friendships.

    The cookbook was published in January 2021 and featured in Printed Matter’s first Virtual Art Book Fair via a live event with Demetria and Emilie. Since then, it’s received attention in outlets such as The Happy Reader (UK), Elephant Magazine (UK), Vanity Fair (France), Le Quotidien de l'Art (France), and Muxmäuschenwild Magazin (Germany). An interview with Demetria will soon be broadcast on the influential German radio station Deutschlandfunk as well as on the highly regarded Polish podcast ODBIORNIK. In summer 2021, the book will begin distribution in the US, and it can already be purchased via JBE.

    Created by Ontroerend Goed (Belgium)
    Co-commissioned by the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio and IDFA DocLab, Ontroerend Goed is back with the one-on-one performance TM which premieres April 21, 2021. Their latest show is the result of the further development of Artificial: Room One, known from IDFA 2019. The live contact and indispensable presence of the audience are a main thread in the work of the theater-performance group. With TM, Ontroerend Goed have created an interactive performance about conspiracy and fear, arising from current themes such as media manipulation, populist ideas, and conspiracy theories.

    TM is co-produced by partners such as Almeida Theatre (UK), Cambridge Junction (UK), Chicago Shakespeare Theater (US), Kunstencentrum Vooruit (BE), Le Carreau - Scène Nationale de Forbach et de l’Est mosellan (FR), Marche Teatro/Inteatro Festival (IT), Theatre Royal Plymouth (UK), and Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond (NL).

    What Is Left of Reality
    Created by Pierre Zandrowicz, Ferdinand Dervieux and Atlas V (France)
    During IDFA 2020, the pandemic forced Atlas V to present a digital-only version of its innovative installation What Is Left of Reality. By scanning the viewer’s position in space and adapting the perspective of a projected volumetric movie, this spatial video installation enables a truly immersive experience without use of a virtual reality headset. The artists conducted extensive testing during the pandemic, and the physical installation will now be presented at the prestigious Gaîté Lyrique in Paris in collaboration with Fisheye and Arles Photography Festival.

    IDFA DocLab is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Netherlands, CLICKNL, Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds, Netherlands Film Fund, Flanders Audiovisual Fund, VIVE, VIVEPORT, and Special Friends+.

    DocLab research collaboration partners are MIT Open Documentary Lab, Beeld en Geluid, ARTIS-Planetarium, CreativeXR, Diversion cinema, Het Nieuwe Instituut, National Film Board of Canada, POPKRAFT, The Immersive Storytelling Studio (National Theatre), and Tolhuistuin.


    IDFA DocLab is funding 4 more artists to adapt their work through COVID times

    • News
    • April 19, 2021
    • The staff

    IDFA DocLab R&D Program

    • Just like a decade ago, when the internet began to converge with traditional media, the future of interactive and immersive media is once again unknown and being shaped by pioneers working in very different disciplines. That is why IDFA DocLab has opened up its platform and launched a five-year R&D program in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Open Documentary Lab).

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