WORK BEGINS ON FLY ANGEL SOUL –Our experimental short shot entirely in VR

The “windows” we used for viewing in our In My Own Skin virtual installation, morph into the decorative grille/grids of Malian architecture (where the film takes place)

FAS tells the story of Sebastian, a young gay physician, estranged from his rural Catholic Missouri family, who, having moved to Mali to heal the sick, is diagnosed with AIDS. Inspired by a quote from Meister Eckhart that we might “rejoice in the everlasting truth in which the highest angel and the soul and the fly are equal,” FAS will be created using Unity’s Cinemachine software with three networked cameras adopting the p.o.v of the eponymous characters. What each camera “hears and sees and how each moves depends in part upon the actions of the other cameras in real time. The cameras function as the “players,” both in the video game sense and in a theatrical sense. The cameras’ real-time “performance” is the material for the 2D film. Thus, in FAS, “liveness” resides in the “embodied” cameras as much as in the actors whose performance is pre-recorded with volumetric video. Thus, the film, itself, is a poetic documentation of both human and computer machinations. Montage, as such, will not come through a post-production editing process, but occurs and becomes manifest as a result of the procedural logic of the game engine + the incommensurable logic of the human operator/performer. In keeping with Eckhart’s intent, the final film will display all the p.o.v’s on one screen,  a tripartate montage of images and sounds, not created in post, but recorded “live” in real time. 

Even though we work with cutting edge technology, I start projects with paper and scissors and glue. Today, Cyril, who is now used to this came over to discuss what I’d come up with. (queerskins a novel queerskins.com began with a 100 page pile of collages that I showed Cyril at lunch one day. They were made on children’s colored construction paper as I’d work late at night after my two young kids were asleep and that was all I had available at the time I started.)

It’s wild to see how your mind builds on things–the delving into architecture and windows for viewing in our In My Own Skin project last year is taken up ten levels. In this project, architectural space and light actual become as integral to the film as the actors.

Ophuls is a major influence for the set in scene 2 (use of multiple patterns/textures/l) which find there real equivalent in contemporary Malian apartment rentals!

We will build a set based on radial forms –see the original plan for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome above.

Other artists’ inspire–screens by Jorge Pardo and paintings/installation by Lucio Fontana. I

In the final scene, I note that the Angel which manifests to the human as light is powerful force inspiring awe and terror.. Cyril and I spent part of our time today discussing “how does an angel see?” So, I look for this brain worm, later and find it on my shelf in Rilke’s Duino Elegies

“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic orders? And, even if one of them pressed me suddenly to his heart: I’d be consume in his stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we can just barely endure, and we stand in awe of it as it coolly disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrifying. ” So, I guess this has been living in my mind all these years, waiting to emerge!

Jerome Foundation Awards Us a Grant to Shoot a 2D Experimental Film in VR!

Fly Angel Soul is a short experimental narrative film shot within virtual reality which explores the potential for virtual production techniques to expand two dimensional cinematic language. FAS tells the story of Sebastian, a young gay physician, estranged from his rural Catholic Missouri family, who, having moved to Mali to heal the sick, is diagnosed with AIDS. Inspired by a quote from Meister Eckhart that we might “rejoice in the everlasting truth in which the highest angel and the soul and the fly are equal,” FAS will be created using Unity’s Cinemachine software with three networked cameras adopting the p.o.v of the eponymous characters. What each camera “hears and sees and how each moves depends in part upon the actions of the other cameras in real time. These positions are not characters, per se. They function as aspects of Sebastian’s interior milieu. Although all three p.o.v. will be equally represented in the final film, using a split screen, FAS unapologetically privileges the ineffable workings of the human heart as the driving and unprogrammable logic of the film. The human camera is the only one operated by an actual living being. The angel and fly exist as state machine, pre-programmed virtual entities.

Looking to “embodied” films like Max Ophul’s Le Plaisir for inspiration

We are not advocating an impossible return to a pre-technical state of “nature”, rather, we are asking what suffering means in our technologically embedded existence.If as Jean-Luc Godard famously stated, “The tracking shots are a matter of morality,” the use of virtual cameras in agile film production brings up pressing ethical questions which have yet to be confronted. In FAS, a “simple” and universal story of human suffering–a diagnosis of terminal illness–AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic, invites viewers to contemplate how suffering is mediated using digital technologies. Our intent is to construct the film in a way that reasserts an embodied, participatory perspective, one that acknowledges the primacy of a “human” perspective while, at the same time, offering the audience alternative, perhaps transcendent computer-mediated ways of seeing, hearing and moving through the same story.


In FAS, all three cameras function as the “players,” both in the video game sense and in a theatrical sense. The cameras’ real-time “performance” is the material for the 2D film. Thus, in FAS, “liveness” resides in the “embodied” cameras as much as in the actors whose performance is pre-recorded with volumetric video. Thus, the film, itself, is a poetic documentation of both human and computer machinations. Montage, as such, will not come through a post-production editing process, but occurs and becomes manifest as a result of the procedural logic of the game engine + the incommensurable logic of the human operator/performer. In keeping with Eckhart’s intent, the final film will display all the p.o.v’s on one screen, a tripartite ever changing montage of images and sounds, not created in post, but recorded “live” in real time.

My Talk at Games for Change on “#Aesthetics and #Empathy: Why #Art Matters”

Really happy with the response to my talk today.

” Wonderful, especially drawing inspiration from Bergson, Lakoff & Johnson, Damasio, Baudrillard!” was one comment.

Also, Hilma af Klint, Sarah Ahmed, Jakob von Uexkull and Marshall McLuhan…Since I have no tech or art background, I feel free to draw on and seek inspiration from a range of sources. I really wish I could teach at the university level, but my M.D. doesn’t go far in academia and institutions are, often, unfortunately, very resistant to new ideas. The thing is, I love teaching and students really enjoy my style and mind (I taught narrative VR design at Independent Film Producers Center in NYC, the student clapped after almost every class…) So, if you are game, hit me up!

I’m going to post my slides and a draft of my paper (warning–this was not for publication, so expect spelling mistakes and grammatical errors) and eventually, I’m sure G4C will post the talk on YouTube. Thanks to all who attended. If you are free, please stop by the Expo (free, but you need to register https://www.gamesforchange.org )–I’ll be taking your questions from 11-12:30 tomorrow at the Queerskins: Ark virtual booth. And from 1:30 -2PM I will be in wild conversation with Queerskins’ actor Michael DeBartolo talking queerness, dance, VR, bodies and more. He’ll do some live readings from Sebastian’s diary, too. Join the conversation!

I’m also excited that Queerskins: ARK is garnering interest in academia! It’s really great when people think your work is important enough to actually do an in-depth analysis and publish a paper on it. Thank you!

Queerskins HOME is now live on VRChat–Is this the #future of #film? #VR #XR #Art #installation #interactive #game #storytelling?

Welcome home. Queerskins Home is LIVE. World #83614 in VRChat. Search #queer. Part art exhibition space, part 3D explorable story world. Due to constraints of VRChat, a free massive player social app, available for Oculus Quest, all tethered VR headsets and online PC, we do not have video (as does not support for Quest) nevertheless, I see the future of cinema here. It is like nothing I have ever experienced.

Of all the things Cyril Tsiboulski and I have made over the last ten years, this feels perfect–raw and unfinished and a gut punch. I know “Art” is pretty and/or cerebral and/or conceptual, but that is not what we made. So proud of it. Amazing lighting help from Unity engineering superstar Elliott Mitchell and architectural advice from Beom Jun Kim, and, of course, Cyril Tsiboulski who is my wonder twin, and created this in 4 days. Working together and on this project for close to ten years is what makes it so deep and so powerful. It took that kind of devotion…Thank you all.

Audio is a big part of this so please adjust by going to your settings on the menu and adjusting master, world sounds and people (other avatars around you) sound. Starting September 2nd, in conjunction with the premiere of Queerskins: ARK at The Venice International Film Festival, I will be leading daily tours with special guests Michael DeBartolo (who plays Sebastian) in Queerskins: ARK and Hadley Boyd (who plays Mary-Helen, his mother). She will be reading live from Sebastian’s diary. So follow us at Queerskins and @queerskins on Insta/Twitter to find out the day’s schedule.

Viva Mexico! Beautiful #Installation Queerskins: a love story for #VR in #Mexico City

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We are at muvlab for two weeks with a site-specific installation of Queerskins: a love story,  featuring videos by Jarrah Gurrie and Pelin Kirca which were commissioned in 2011-12 for the online narrative.

I contacted Jarrah through a short film website, we met for two hours in a coffee shop in Union Square. He was going to LA to work on editing a Hollywood film –I handed him a Flip video camera and told him “no narrative” –just put it in your pocket and film your life. (I wanted him to use a Flip because it had no zoom so the filmmaker’s body is ever present in the motion of the shot) Three months later–he sent me back these beautiful videos which represent Sebastian’s life in LA after leaving Missouri.

Pelin’s video of a man touching his chest has been a centerpiece of installation since Tribeca. I met this wonderful Turkish artist in 2007 and commissioned a hand-drawn animation for Reconstructing Mayakovsky.

VR Fest MX was fantastic–the level of intelligence and creative energy in Mexico City is incredible. Thanks to all for this opportunity.

 

 

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Really excited to be part of this!

FORWARD/STORY (Forward Slash Story) is an invite-only 3 day residential lab taking place May 16, 17 & 18th, 2014. A lab where storytellers working in tech don’t give presentations. There are no projects or mentors only peers. Participants share and explore the creative challenges of telling stories that break new ground. Five core challenges that storytellers face will be explored in a collaborative environment.