It’s the end of November, so IDFA is in town. Next to their showing of groundbreaking documentaries, they organized an exposition on immersive reality. Because this was a spitting distance away from our office, we couldn’t resist checking it out.
The expo, organized at Belgian cultural centre ‘De Brakke Grond’, hosted many innovative and entertaining stands. ‘We know where your cat lives’ is a database of all cat pictures on the internet that uses embedded GPS-information to plot their locations on an interactive map. A funny project with an ominous undertone. Because what if these weren’t cat pictures but images of little children? ‘Refugee Republic’ lends a human touch to refugee camps in the Middle East, letting the viewer take a glance at the daily lives of its inhabitants. ‘Seven digital sins’ works like an online confession booth for people who use the possibilities of the internet for their own selfish or unethical needs. In total there are about 30 projects, each of which is telling a story in its own unique way.
The showpiece of the expo, however, was the Oculus Rift and the way it showcased the potential for interactive documentaries. ’Zero Point’ allows the user to step into a documentary rendered in 360°, allowing for a whole new way of experiencing a story. That was really cool. ‘Assent’ takes the user to a tragedy perpetrated by the Chilean regime in 1973. The maker, Oscar Raby, has experienced this event first-hand, which makes for a powerful story. ‘The machine to be another’ offers the user a chance to step into the body of someone else, which opens the door to all kinds of possibilities. Because we couldn’t exactly take the Oculus Rift with us, we played around with Google Cardboard back at the office. Using a smartphone and these cardboard glasses, you can experience virtual reality yourself at a fraction of the cost. But watch out for the rollercoaster app. Some of us are still dizzy.