This year's competition showed a great diversity of projects, technologies, and subject matter. This is common, of course, and it makes a juror’s life uneasy as well as exciting.
We skipped the comparison though. We looked at each work separately, mentioned its strong points and weaknesses, and put it into the context of our utterly mixed experiences. This alone made for a very rich conversation.
It was certainly not all VR or AI; there was also room for mirrors and sound, peeking into private interiors, and dancing and dressing up. There was monumental storytelling, poetic story-finding, embodied awkwardness, and automated curation. It all managed to draw us in and strike an emotional chord.
Taking all that into account, there were two projects that really stood out for the three of us, even though they are worlds apart. They each manage to take you on a journey and confront you; both with the outside world as well as within yourself. They are layered, open, poetic, engaging, and meaningful. Both connect to important current issues in creativity and technology as well as our timeframe and society. As the jury, we therefore fully underwrite both prizes given.
It is quite an ambitious endeavor to merge geology, modern city life, climate change, and the urban landscape in the middle of Amsterdam, but with a specially crafted audio system that mixes pre-recorded sound as well as augmented real time audio, it can be done. This creator proved it in a highly sensorial and poetic way with a project that not only makes you aware of the world around you, but also triggers the emotional chords within.
The Special Jury Award for Creative Technology in Immersive Non-Fiction goes to Only Expansion by Duncan Speakman.
To move, to dance, to flow, to see ourselves, but most of all, to see others. Finding empathy in a digital mirror, playful and embodied, becoming one with so many. We sometimes forget to do so in our selfie times, but it is exactly that which we need to re-establish and to become team human again. Honest and full of joy, this project shows us how. The creator, the dancers, and you make the tech disappear.
The IDFA DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction goes to Vast Body 22 by Vincent Morisset.