April 3, 2018
As virtual reality makes its way outside of Silicon Valley and into our theaters, homes, and hospitals, it seems like the technology will soon be a part of our everyday lives. But how can we separate fact from fiction when it comes to the powerful empathy and memory-bending potential of the medium? As VR changes the way we experience the world and each other, should we step back and ask what exactly we want from the medium?
NYU Washington, DC and Future Tense hosted a mix of presentations and conversations with pioneers in the field of VR who discussed technology's most promising applications. The speaker lineup was followed by a VR fair where audience members tested out new VR experiences for themselves.
Featured: Nonny de la Peña (CEO, Emblematic Group; New Arizona Fellow, New America; Yale Poynter Fellow), Laura Wexler (co-creator of DINNER PARTY, a Sundance Institute 2017 New Frontier Lab selection), Kristian Bouw, (CEO, NotionTheory) PLUS an interview about VR in VR with Jeremy Bailenson, (Founding Director, Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab; author of Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do), R. Luke DuBois, (Co-Director / Associate Professor of Integrated Digital Media Technology, Culture and Society; Music and Performing Arts Professions; Interactive Telecommunications), and more.
Catch up on the conversation from this event by following #FutureTenseVR and by following @FutureTenseNow.
Jeremy Bailenson is founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Thomas More Storke Professor in the Department of Communication, a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Faculty Director of Stanford’s Digital Learning Forum, and a Faculty Leader at Stanford’s Center for Longevity. He earned a B.A. cum laude from the University of Michigan in 1994 and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Northwestern University in 1999. He spent four years at the University of California, Santa Barbara as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and then an Assistant Research Professor.
Bailenson studies the psychology of Virtual Reality (VR), in particular how virtual experiences lead to changes in perceptions of self and others. His lab builds and studies systems that allow people to meet in virtual space, and explores the changes in the nature of social interaction. His most recent research focuses on how VR can transform education, environmental conservation, empathy, and health.
Kristian Bouw is a serial entrepreneur who founded the boutique creative product agency, NotionTheory. In addition to founding one of the premier software companies in the D.C. area, he is also a local mentor to budding entrepreneurs and early stage startups. Notably, he regularly hosts events to foster growth among local businesses and also strives to educate the community about the impact of new technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality. In two years of operating NotionTheory, he has become of one of the most creative influencers in the software space, particularly for virtual reality development and has created partnerships with the likes of fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government.
R. Luke DuBois is a composer, artist, and performer who explores the temporal, verbal, and visual structures of cultural and personal ephemera. He holds a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University, and has lectured and taught worldwide on interactive sound and video performance. He has collaborated on interactive performance, installation, and music production work with many artists and organizations including Toni Dove, Todd Reynolds, Jamie Jewett, Bora Yoon, Michael Joaquin Grey, Matthew Ritchie, Elliott Sharp, Michael Gordon, Maya Lin, Bang on a Can, Engine 27, Harvestworks, and LEMUR, and was the director of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra for its 2007 season.
Stemming from his investigations of “time-lapse phonography,” his work is a sonic and encyclopedic relative to time-lapse photography. Just as a long camera exposure fuses motion into a single image, his projects reveal the average sonority, visual language, and vocabulary in music, film, text, or cultural information. Exhibitions of his work include: the Insitut Valencià d’Art Modern, Spain; Haus der elektronischen Künste, Switzerland; 2008 Democratic National Convention, Denver; Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; San Jose Museum of Art; National Constitution Center, Philadelphia; Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art; Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul; 2007 Sundance Film Festival; the Sydney Film Festival; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; PROSPECT.2 New Orleans; and the Aspen Institute. DuBois' work and writing has appeared in print and online in the New York Times, National Geographic, and Esquire Magazine, and he was an invited speaker at the 2016 TED Conference. A major survey of his work, NOW, received its premiere at the Ringling Museum of Art in 2014, with a catalogue published by Scala Art & Heritage Publishers.
An active visual and musical collaborator, DuBois is the co-author of Jitter, a software suite for the real-time manipulation of matrix data developed by San Francisco-based software company Cycling'74. He appears on nearly twenty-five albums both individually and as part of the avant-garde electronic group The Freight Elevator Quartet. He currently performs as part of Bioluminescence, a duo with vocalist Lesley Flanigan that explores the modality of the human voice, and in Fair Use, a trio with Zach Layton and Matthew Ostrowski, that looks at our accelerating culture through elecronic performance and remixing of cinema.
DuBois has lived for the last twenty-two years in New York City. He is the director of the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and is on the Board of Directors of the ISSUE Project Room. His records are available on Caipirinha/Sire, Liquid Sky, C74, and Cantaloupe Music. His artwork is represented by bitforms gallery in New York City.
Nonny de la Peña, New Arizona Fellow, will work on a virtual reality story that puts the audience on the U.S.-Mexico border. She is founder and CEO of Emblematic Group where she has produced groundbreaking and award winning VR content, including Hunger in Los Angeles, the first VR piece ever shown at Sundance. Her other work includes After Solitary and Greenland Melting (in partnership with PBS Frontline), We Who Remain (in partnership with the New York Times), Out Of Exile (in partnership with Sarah Ramirez' Atrevida Productions), among many others. She has received the Knight Foundation Award for Media Innovation and was named a Yale Poynter Fellow.
Sarah Rothberg is an artist who captures the interplay between technology, systems, and the personal, creating meaning through unique and often strange interactions. Her immersive and idiosyncratic experiences are impossible scenarios that suggest other ways of remembering, thinking, understanding, and communicating.
Sarah's work has been exhibited internationally at venues including Sotheby's s2 gallery, MUTEK festival, Mana Contemporary, and bitforms gallery. She teaches virtual reality at NYU (Tisch) and the New School (Lang).
Sarah is on twitter @sarahrothberg
Laura Wexler is a Baltimore-based writer and producer creating narrative projects across multiple mediums that dramatize little-known true stories.
Wexler is the co-creator and executive producer of DINNER PARTY, a VR thriller based on the true story of the first nationally known UFO abduction. DINNER PARTY was selected for Sundance Institute’s 2017 New Frontier Lab, received a 2017 Engadget Alternate Realities grant, and world-premieres at New Frontier at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. DINNER PARTY is the pilot for INCIDENT, a VR series dramatizing true-life supernatural mysteries.
Other projects in development include RHINELANDER, a feature film based on an infamous 1924 racial passing case, and WISH YOU WERE HERE, a site-specific immersive audio experience based on the little-known history of maternity homes in the United States.
She has developed television for Amazon Studios and is the author of FIRE IN A CANEBRAKE, a nonfiction book about an unsolved mass lynching.
She is the co-founder and co-producer of The Stoop Storytelling Series, a Baltimore-based live show and podcast that features “ordinary” people telling the extraordinary true tales of their lives.