On presence and being back: We have to get back—back as in we need to arrive, fully present into this moment. The joy, the sensory experience, the voluptuous panic of the crowd, the love, and the connection that communal experiences provide. Being back is knowing a home is waiting for you in the hearts of the people around you, or the conversations in between screenings, or in the gifts these IDFA storytellers give that are generous of their time, their spirit, and talents.
We are watching young women bravely declare what has always been true, that the movement, for women, life, and freedom cannot be stopped.
Here at IDFA DocLab, we are reckoning with history and shaping the world for future generations.
The artists have used technology to reflect their lived experiences, their research, their bodily sensations, and they have leveraged the social, physical, and political to connect us to the here and now. The power of immersive technology is to ground us. The electrons that flow through our body, the same simple particles or waves that flow through lithium ion batteries, glowing screens, scent generators in our nose hairs, fluid slime on our tongues, pulsating mechanical vibes in our eardrums, and light emitting diodes that enter our retinas. This year, the creators and explorers have grounded us, and reminded us to stay present. They have not asked that we walk in someone else's shoes but to walk side by side with their subjects in solidarity to a collective future.
This innovative project affects its critique through a new mode of critical thought. It is a slimier mode of thought than we are used to, and the work begins with the audience literally absorbing it through their pores. With humor, we encounter the squishy uncanny valley of ourselves. Science fiction infects science education tropes. As creative technologists, they infected the jury; with candy-plastic-laced organisms that invaded our blood streams, we are transformed. Not just in our hearts and minds, but in the evolution of our new plastic, fluid selves. The winner of the IDFA DocLab Special Jury Award for Creative Technology is Plastisapiens by Miri Chekhanovich and Edith Jorisch.
This year, the jury chose a project that was an arrival for the immersive creative community. This project is a clear manifestation of this unique medium that uses VR, touch, sound, and lived experience to honor the human need for community and a collective desire to be free, together. Through documentary, we remember those who are policed, are reckless, are alive, are unlimited and demand to be free, even if for a night. This jury, blindfolded in light, walked through a corridor to experience this story and found ourselves transported, arms raised, with euphoric beats in our chest, and delighted to announce this winner of the IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction is In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats by Darren Emerson.