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.

Ordinary Gesture VR Performance Art Work Premieres at The Museum of Other Realities November 2021

Raja’s performance translated to a VR avatar in Ordinary Gesture

We had the great pleasure of working with rising star Raja Feather Kelly to realize his first VR work Ordinary Gesture. For the first time, I had the opportunity to act as both creative producer and co-director for a work that was not my own, and I loved it. The team (Raja, Me, Cyril Tsiboulski working as Art and Technical Director and Lead Developer and Christoph Mateka doing Sound Design and Score composition) collaborated with an ease and respect and openness that nourished all of our creativity. Thanks to Artizen and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival who commissioned this work.

From Raja: “Ordinary Gesture is a Virtual Reality Theatrical experience that intersects theatre, meditation, and movement. The experience seeks to surrealize the experience of empathy by situating the player in 5 scenes that expand from their body to space-time (the universe) and back again. Inspired by the movies Magnolia, Melancholia, Waking Life, the poem You Are Never Ready by Nicole Blackman, and the writing of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, Ordinary Gesture asks the player to contemplate existence, suffering, compassion, and gesture as both ingredients to create theatre and a means to perhaps better understand empathy.”

We have plans to further develop this work and find additional venue/arts institution partners so that audiences outside of the VR festival world can experience these.

I Will Be Curating a Performance and Interactive Sessions Featuring Work from the Third Electronic Literature Collection at The Kitchen

It’s official I’ll be curating a 5 hour performance/interactive workshop at renowned experimental art/performance space The Kitchen in NYC on Saturday, September 10th, 2016 featuring work from the Electronic Literature Collection vol. 3.  This should be especially interesting for writers, visual artists, interactive designers and game designers. More information soon.