The lab, which has 12 residents, is a partnership between CFC Media Lab, NFB, and JustFilms | Ford Foundation. 

Published in Canadian Film Centre

First-ever Open Immersion residency expands conversations in the VR space

By Eric Weiss

Virtual Reality is often presented as a hardware challenge, as if programmers and engineers are the sole gatekeepers of the medium. That bias means a skewed focus on what VR can do, rather than asking creators about the messages they want to share.

Open Immersion, a lab exploring immersive VR storytelling, was developed by CFC Media Lab and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) with funding from JustFilms | Ford Foundation. Its aim: to reclaim the VR space for artists. The inaugural event brought together six First Nations artists in Canada with six artists of color from the American South, most of whom have little-to-no prior experience with VR, to a residency in Toronto from October 11 to 19, 2016. The first two days were devoted to knowledge gathering. Then the 12 residents were placed into teams and asked to create three original VR stories as part of an intense week-long laboratory.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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