Five Frontier Storytellers to Watch in 2022

Are you inspired to craft stories using XR technologies? Check out these Frontier Storytellers impacting their industries.

The New Frontier section at the Sundance Film Festival is a space to experience the new digital tools artists for interactive projects.

When asked why I regularly attend the Sundance Film Festival, I shared this with a Bay Area reporter. If you want to learn about the future of transportation, you head to the Detroit Auto Show. If you want to experience the latest in consumer technologies, you walk the trade floors of the Consumer Electronic Show. If you want to discover the future of storytelling, you attend the Sundance Film Festival. Thanks to its New Frontier section, Sundance is more than a film festival. New Frontier is a space to experience the new digital tools and services Sundance artists and collaborators use for their interactive projects.

“We saw the Covid-19 lockdown affect our theatre and dance communities,” says New Frontier Chief Curator Shari Frilot, speaking during a virtual press panel at the start of the 2022 Sundance Festival. “These artists turned to technologists in remarkable ways.”

Creative colleagues and marketing peers frequently choose the phrase future storytelling to describe interactive (XR) and immersive content. I prefer the name frontier storytelling. I like frontier storytelling because content creators use frontier technologies to better interact with audiences. Storytellers use frontier tech tools like durational VR, immersive web experiences, interactive audio, and VR chat.

Artists, marketing leaders, and media pros also source inspiration from Sundance’s New Frontier section. It’s inspiring how storytellers can trace the journey of XR content through 16 years of New Frontier. That’s another reason I embrace the terms frontier storytellers and frontier storytelling.

Are you a content creator inspired to craft stories using the latest XR technologies? Check out these Frontier Storytellers impacting their industries.

The durational VR experience ‘Gondwana’ takes audiences on an immersive dive into Australia’s Daintree Rainforest.

Frontier Storytellers: Emma Roberts and Ben-Joseph Andrews

Frontier Tech: Durational VR

Project: Gondwana

Take an immersive dive into Australia’s Daintree Rainforest via the project Gondwana, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance attendees experience Australia’s Daintree Rainforest via 24-hour project cycles that include climate data projections of Daintree’s future. Artists Emma Roberts and Ben-Joseph Andrews amplify the impact via the durational VR experience Gondwana, an immersive dive into Australia’s Daintree Rainforest. Groups like Greenpeace agree that virtual reality helps ignite calls to action on climate change. Will durational VR inspire you to act on climate change?

The Santa-Fe-based B Corp. Meow Wolf co-creates with immersive audio tech company Spatial on The Spatial Holodeck at the 2022 SXSW Conference. Photo by Brittany Flowers.

Frontier Storytellers: Meow Wolf

Frontier Tech: Immersive Sound

Project: The Spatial Holodeck

The Santa-Fe-based B Corp. Meow Wolf co-creates with immersive audio tech company Spatial on The Spatial Holodeck, an interactive installation at the 2022 SXSW Conference. Visitors to The Spatial Holodeck experience first-hand the impact of immersive audio. Visiting The Spatial Holodeck is step one for SXSW attendees on the immersive audio journey. They can experience more frontier audio tech at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC.

‘Brainstream’ is an interactive animated film and web experience from lead artist Caroline Robert.

Frontier Storytellers: Caroline Robert, Vincent Morisset, Edouard Lanctot-Benoit, and Mathieu Charbonneau

Frontier Tech: Interactive Animation and Web Content

Project: Brainstream

Brainstream is an interactive animated film and web experience using animation, editing, graphic design, and music to tell a story about beauty and science to immerse audiences into the head of D., a young woman live-streaming her brain activity. With the support of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), lead artist Caroline Robert and co-creators Vincent Morisset, Edouard Lanctot-Benoit, and Mathieu Charbonneau immerse viewers into the mysteries of brain activity while interacting with the character D.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Sam Green returns to Sundance with ’32 Sounds,’ an immersive film crafted around 32 spatial audio experiences.

Frontier Storyteller: Sam Green

Frontier Tech: Interactive Audio

Project: 32 Sounds

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Sam Green returns to Sundance with 32 Sounds, an immersive film crafted around 32 spatial audio experiences. Via audience headsets, classic educational films, and new documentary footage featuring the Neumann KU 100 Dummy Head Binaural Microphone, Green pays homage to film and sound editor Walter Murch and stereophonic sound engineer Alan Blumlein. Audiences typically focus on visuals in immersive works. In 32 Sounds, Green flips the model, and sound trumps vision.

‘Good Neighbours’ is an immersive storytelling project about neighborhood surveillance.

Frontier Storytellers: Klasien van de Zandschulp, Dr. Natalie Dixon, and the artists and theorists at affect lab, a creative studio, and research practice.

Frontier Tech: Mobile chatbot. Surveillance Technology. Live Performance. Immersive Storytelling.

Project: Good Neighbours

Good Neighbours is an immersive storytelling project about neighborhood surveillance involving live performance, mobile technology, placemaking, and urban design. Interactive artist Klasian van de Zandschulp and researcher Dr. Natalie Dixon lead artists and researchers on app-driven live performances and site-specific urban studies.

Are you building a discovery pool of XR artists, content, products, and projects for collaboration opportunities and inspirations? The Sundance and SXSW communities are supportive places for creators to share their works. Networking with other creative professionals and experiencing diverse frontier storytelling projects inspire and put your moonshot goals within reach.

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