New World by Kerenza Harris and Alessio Grancini has been selected from the Open Call on the current situation due to COVID 19 for this year’s digital festival edition VRHAM! VIRTUAL. The experience will be shown in the festival section VRCinema.
VRHAM! VIRTUAL: Tell us a bit about your artistic approach to the pandemic.
KERENZA HARRIS: Our personal experience of isolation during the pandemic is confusing to us. We feel both happy to be safe and alive while at the same time scared and devastated by what is happening around us. It feels like we are dreaming, alone in a tiny bubble. We’ve kept this dreamlike quality in New World and tried to center the story on the conflicting emotions we are going through. While making the experience, we also felt it was important to reconnect our bodies and minds. We purposefully used Tilt Brush to build the environment and essentially used our bodies to create New World.
VR is an important social and cultural medium that we hope will continue to grow.
VV: A major theme of both the experience and the pandemic is isolation. What do you think, does VR technology lead us more into isolation or does it help us out?
KH: VR technology has the ability to directly affect our perception and impact how we experience the world as a simulated environment; It is both physical and emotional. New realities, new world, new bodies, there are no limits to what can be explored. We believe strongly that as the technology becomes more accessible, it will have a greater impact on our lives. We already see the amazing artistic experiences that are created everyday and the variety of subjects that are dealt with. It is an important social and cultural medium that we hope will continue to grow.
VV: Will the so called “virtual world” become more important for social and cultural life during and after the pandemic? If so, how?
KH: For us, it goes beyond social and cultural life. The stakes are much greater now. Our world is moving towards more polarized thinking, there seems to be less and less common ground, less compassion. For the past two days, the tense situation in Los Angeles (US), where we are based, highlights how far out of touch we are from each other and how important it is for us to reconnect. Creating virtual worlds and imagined stories is a way for us to question the status quo, to express new ideas and share our beliefs with others in a safe immersive environment.
VV: What does it mean to you to be a part of VRHAM! Virtual 2020?
KH: In this changing world, we are searching for ways to reconnect to others, to feel like we belong somewhere. VRHAM! has given us the unique opportunity to share our story and find hope and unity in the most unlikely places.