2019 list of 50+ Immersive Things that mix storytelling, performance, play, design & code

lance weiler
Dec 17, 2019 · 33 min read
Colony Sound is a multi-room installation by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe

The following is a list of 50 immersive things from 2019 that mix storytelling, performance, play, design and code.

Big thanks to everyone who helped with suggestions! A group of working practitioners from around the globe shared the projects that moved them, stood out and were something that shouldn’t be missed. You can see the list of contributors who made recommendations at the end of the article.

UPDATED December 20th — A few submissions came in late and have been added to the list.

The following are in NO particular order


Spectre Project — Bill Posters & Daniel Howe

“Famous people will say anything these days. Mark Zuckerberg admitting to abusing Facebook users’ information, or Kim Kardashian chatting about manipulating public data for money is a little unexpected though.

Look as closely as you want, but it’s nigh on impossible to tell that these clips are fakes, if it weren’t for the purposefully jarring content of what they’re saying. The series — which also counts Morgan Freeman and Marina Abramović among its ‘stars’ — is part of a broader effort from transatlantic duo Bill Posters and Daniel Howe to lay bare the dubious technological underbelly of modern society.” — Creative Review


The Things We Lost in The Flood — Awkward Silence Games

“Water has happened, and there goes the world. I don’t want to say too much because it’s one of those rare games whose shape I couldn’t predict, where I didn’t my know goals let alone what I might see or do, and would like to leave you the same surprise.

It’s a pleasant place to explore, and each run seems to throw different bits at me in a different order. I have yet to figure out the significance of several aspects, or whether they even have any. I’m not the only one, judging by some of the messages I’ve found drifting in bottles.” — Rock Paper Shotgun



Lithopy — Denisa Kera & Petr Šourek

“Lithopia is a parody of a “smart village”. It explores scenarios of future data governance and resistance by using blockchain technologies (Hyperledger Fabric) and smart contracts triggered by satellite and drone data. The villagers govern their affairs in an extremely transparent, but also an aesthetic manner in front of the all-seeing technical “eyes” of God and Providence, such as Sentinel 2A and B Copernicus satellites, and public drones used as notaries. …are featured in a design fiction movie over 7 screens capturing the different perspective on the Lithopian transactions: sky, earth, and infrastructure/blockchain.” — Core77


Holly Herndon — Proto

“For a while now, Herndon has been interested in the potential for a different path. In her work, there’s a possibility for technology to be humane, progressive, fleshy, revolutionary. She’s spent a lot of time thinking about the ethics of artificial intelligence, about the quality and consequences of data sets; in a statement Herndon wrote about PROTO, she noted we needn’t raise technology to be a “monster.” PROTO is a love song to the capacity for machine-made music to be full of life. It’s the opposite of the dystopian fear of the singularity, in sound and spirit.” — VICE


The Privilege of Escape — Risa Puno

“There are many surprises of course, including the way the whole thing hammers home issues of inequity and privilege, and Creative Time has asked for spoiler-free coverage, so we won’t be giving anything away here or in the photos. Here’s what we can say: The Privilege of Escape works like an escape room: your team has a set amount of time — in this case 45 minutes — to solve a series of puzzles, each one building on the last, until the final door opens with a flourish and you are free.” — Gothamist


HyperHuman — IDEO

“We’re in the midst of a revolution. Intelligent machines are able to augment our humanity in ways that seem lifted straight out of science fiction. Self-driving cars, bipedal and quadrupedal robots, even our thermostats learn from us and get smarter over time… This is a moment for design. A moment for us to imagine the kind of future we want to see. What might it feel like?

…To explore those questions, and give shape to the immense benefits that intelligent machines can bring to our lives, work, and society as a whole, we created a speculative design exhibition for Munich Creative Business Week called Hyperhuman.” — IDEO


Death Stranding — Hideo Kojima

“Kojima isn’t the first video game director to cast live-action stars from movies and TV shows as leading characters, nor is he the only video game director aspiring to cinematic excellence. But these aren’t movies with button prompts. Kojima’s games are, primarily, games, as renowned for their interactive systems as they are for their clever direction. Kojima uses cinematic elements to create an engrossing world for his characters to inhabit, but he never mistakes his audience: His games are intended for a player, not a viewer. Kojima doesn’t want to create cinema so much as he wants to integrate art critically across many mediums: movies, TV shows, novels, history, drama, comedy, and video games all in conversation together.” — The Ringer


A quick plug: Are you interested in how emergent tech is impacting storytelling, art, play, design, education, policy, health and/or humanity? I run a newsletter and curated link site called Creative Machines (formerly known as Culture Hacker). Creative Machines reaches thousands of subscribers each week with a mix of links related to projects, people, resources and events.


The Under Presents — tenderclaws

“There is a freeing feeling about performing, but joining a theater production is a time commitment that’s hard to balance between a full-time job and kids. But a new experience making use of Facebook’s Oculus Quest put me inside a show filled with characters — some played by real actors and others that play with my emotions anyway.

Somewhere, on a desolate wreckage-strewn plain, I’m following a cat-person. Its smile is wide and unnerving. It dances near me, beckoning. We walk to a fountain. And we stand there. The cat snaps its fingers. I snap mine. I remove my face and snap my fingers over it and conjure onions, which I throw in the air. We dance together.” — CNET


In Event of Moon Disaster — Francesca Panetta & Halsey Burgund

“In July 1969, much of the world celebrated the “giant leap for mankind” that the successful moon landing constituted. Fifty years later, nothing is quite so straightforward. In Event of Moon Disaster illustrates the possibilities of deepfake technologies by reimagining this seminal event.

What if the Apollo 11 mission had gone wrong and the astronauts had not been able to return home? A contingency speech for this possibility was prepared, but never delivered by President Nixon — until now. The immersive installation invites you into this alternative history and asks us all to consider how new technologies can bend, redirect and obfuscate the truth around us.” — IDFA doc lab


Sound Stories (LACMA) — Christian Marclay

“As one might expect, Sound Stories makes for a possibly unique museum experience, but one whose visual and sonic details elude description and may escape memory completely. “I believe in individuals’ ability to get something out of any experience,” Marclay said, when asked how much he cared about what visitors might retain of Sound Stories.” — Art Newspaper


Work and Life of Stanley Kubrick — Tubik

“A screenwriter, director and editor Kubrick is the original Typophile auteur of all times and his legacy is to be remembered and we do believe that design studio Tubik has paid the best design-forward tribute to the Britsh master of arts. Kubrick Life wasn’t a commissioned work for the Ukraine-based studio rather than “a purely creative project for the purpose of education and with deep respect to a cinematography legend.” The winner of Webby Award 2019 in the category Movie & Film Kubrick Life was accomplished by studio designers Vladyslav Taran, Ksenia Lashko and Denys Koloskov.” — Type Room


Airplane Mode — AMC Games

“It’s the first title published by AMC Games (from the TV network that brought us Breaking Bad) and it provides a similar experience to what might be the ultimate test of a gamer’s patience and perseverance: Desert Bus. Originally designed by magicians Penn and Teller to be part of a collection of mini PC games that was never released, Desert Bus simply requires players to drive a bus on a deserted stretch of desert highway for eight hours straight without crashing — which sounds a lot easier than it is.

Airplane Mode takes a similar approach, but players aren’t tasked with flying a plane across the Atlantic. Instead, they simply have to remain in their seat, which is thankfully right next to a window showing real satellite imagery of the terrain beneath your flight path, for six straight hours while all the usual things that happen on a flight play out around them.” — Gizmodo


Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical

“A couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, Skittles dropped a commercial featuring the actor Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under, Dexter, plus Cabaret and Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway), in which he explained that he was going to be in a Skittles commercial that wouldn’t air during the game. The ad would be a live show staged on Broadway; people would have to buy tickets, and it wasn’t going to be live-streamed or broadcast.

Indeed, on February 3 at the Town Hall in New York City, Michael C. Hall took to the stage to sing and dance his way through a half-hour-long musical ad for Skittles, written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Will Eno — and, reader, we went.” — Polygon



Traveling While Black — Roger Ross Williams

“Traveling While Black is the first virtual reality project by Oscar-winning documentarian Roger Ross Williams, in collaboration with virtual reality studio Felix and Paul Studios. Glued together by the deep terror of racism, the documentary relies on a collection of interviews and poetic cinematic recreations to tell the harrowing tale of the danger that comes with having black skin.

Originally developed from a play as a multimedia project, someone suggested it might take better life as virtual reality project. Even so, its initial development was rocky. “It was tough figuring out the landscape because everything is so new,” Williams said. “At one point, this piece was going to be animated. At one point, we wrote a script and were talking to actors…” — The Guardian


Presence — Daan Roosegaarde

“Part mad scientist, part design virtuoso, Daan Roosegaarde creates public projects around the world that push the boundaries of landscape and infrastructure, and seek to address and propose solutions to environmental problems. The Van Gogh Path, part of Smart Highway, brought The Starry Night to an illuminated road in the Netherlands; the Smog Free Project introduces pollution vacuums to major cities, like Beijing, that suffer from poor air quality; and the majestic lighting installation Waterlicht illustrates how the cities in which it is staged could one day be submerged by rising sea levels.

Now, Rotterdam’s Groninger Museum is home to Presence, the Dutch creator’s first retrospective, which continues to January, 2020. The exhibition emphasizes interactivity and employs technology to connect visitors to the ways in which their actions make impressions on their surroundings. It’s whimsical and immersive, but also aims for something much more powerful: to create an awareness of how people affect the world around them.” — Azure Magazine


Where There’s Smoke — Lance Weiler

*Please note this work is included because it was suggested by a number of people who contributed recommendations for this list.

“Over 100 movies screened at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, but one of its best offerings lets you walk inside the frame and experience a story from the inside out. In “Where There’s Smoke,” a selection of Tribeca’s Virtual Arcade program, participants literally walk through one man’s memories and engage with his grief. Lance Weiler, a filmmaker who years ago dove headlong into the creative possibility of immersive storytelling, has crafted an elaborate form of experiential cinema and interactive theater out of personal experiences.” — IndieWire


Missing — SBS

“In 1966, the search made headlines around the country, with more than 150 police and volunteers spending days desperately searching 13,000 acres of dense scrub around Wendy’s Adelaide Hills home. Eventually, her abductor was charged with her murder and Pitjantjatjara trackers, Jimmy James and Daniel Moodoo were called in to find her remains. Instead, they followed her tracks through more than 20 kilometres of bushland and finally reunited Wendy with her family.

Missing celebrates Australian history and its unsung heroes as part of SBS’s efforts to bring together communities to reflect on and celebrate what it means to be Australian today.” — Missing SBS site


Anthem: Homunculus — John Cameron Mitchell

“Award-winning author and director John Cameron Mitchell is a childhood hero to many for whom the poignant and cutting-edge musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch was a soundtrack to their formative years. Fortunately for these ardent fans, Mitchell is offering up a new creation. His podcast, Anthem: Homunculus is a dense and masterful musical journey, in the style of a radio play, produced by Topic (Missing Richard Simmons) and available now for your binging pleasure as original content on Luminary.

Anthem boasts an all-star cast, including Glenn Close, Marion Cotillard, Laurie Anderson, Patti LuPone and Cynthia Erivo. The intimate, dark and at times hilarious six-hour, 10-episode musical podcast was co-created by Bryan Weller. The two have enjoyed past collaborations, notably the 2017 film How To Talk To Girls At Parties.” — Forbes


The Nest — Scout Expedition Co.

“In The Nest (2019), participants find themselves the winner of an auction for a storage unit once owned by the mysterious Josephine “Josie” Carroll, who has passed away without any next of kin; the fictional auction company, run by a friendly “Mel Baker,” is unable to offer information about her life, so players find themselves without much to go on as they arrive at the undisclosed location. The majority of the experience in The Nest is spent piecing together the milestones of Josie’s life as participants navigate through the dark but surprisingly expansive storage unit. The walls are lined with boxes that seem like they could topple over at any moment at first glance, but don’t; participants wander makeshift-seeming hallways and cramped chambers armed only with a flickering flashlight and a portable tape deck.” — No Proscenium


Discrete Figures — Rhizomatiks Research, ELEVENPLAY, Kyle McDonald

“Inspired by mathematician Alan Turing, this expansive multidisciplinary collaboration between contemporary mathematicians, dancers, media artists, composers, and engineers has created a complex experimental augmented reality performance. Truly a first of its kind, discrete figures probes the circuitry connecting the corporeal to the cognitive, questioning the very essence of humanity and machine. Having garnered an international following for their many groundbreaking collaborations that meld conceptual and high-tech innovation, Rhizomatiks Research and ELEVENPLAY forge unexplored possibilities in dance as a performing art.” — New York Live Arts


The Raven — Ava Lee Scott, Nick Fortugno, Nick Childs & Lance Weiler

*Please note this work is included because it was suggested by a number of people who contributed recommendations for this list.

“Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many but few will be grieved by it.” So begins the infamous Rufus Griswold obituary of Poe, who died penniless and unhappy days after being discovered delirious in the gutter on a cold fall morning. The author’s legacy, his ghosts, and even the mysterious circumstances of his death are examined in this immersive theater experience that blends, elements of game play, cutting-edge audio technology, and first-rate storytelling.” — The New York Film Festival


Passenger — Isobel Knowles & Van Sowerwine

“PASSENGER is a 360 degree stop-motion VR film that tells the story of arriving in a new country to live. Your taxi driver, himself a migrant to Australia, navigates the new terrain with you, acting as your guide while also revealing small parts of his own story. PASSENGER recreates and investigates the geographic and visual dislocation of arriving somewhere unfamiliar, and beginning the journey of finding a new home in a foreign land.” — Passenger Site


Lindsey — the Radio play

“Classic film noir and modern-day audio podcasts don’t sound like a likely combination, but to Alex Genty-Waksberg, it was a natural path to explore, and one that began to take its own shape throughout the process. This project is called Lindsay: A Radio Play, heavily inspired by 1998’s The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan. The movie is about two twin girls whose parents had divorced and each taken a child — so the girls grew up with very different lives on different sides of the world.

The girls meet by chance at a summer camp and decide to switch places upon returning home to experience life with the other parent. Perhaps they’d even be able to reunite the family. The storyline is interesting enough, but there’s one detail that has fooled many: Lohan plays both roles. Genty-Waksberg was enthralled with the concept, and the idea for an audio noir took off.” — Door County Pulse


A Vixen’s Tale — Welsh National Opera

“Fusing together music and theatre with innovative digital technology, the whole family can ‘follow the vixen’, meeting some of her loveable friends as you travel through the seasons.

Situated in Wales Millennium Centre’s foyer, our human scale tunnel installation will transport you into a pop-up-book-style world where you can be inspired by Janáček’s music and themes around the cycle of life and nature.” — Welsh National Opera’s site


A quick plug: Are you interested in how emergent tech is impacting storytelling, art, play, design, education, policy, health and/or humanity? I run a newsletter and curated link sited called Creative Machines (formerly known as Culture Hacker). Creative Machines reaches thousands of subscribers each week with a mix of links related to projects, people, resources and events.


Un/tied Shoes — Evie Ruddy & Tracey Lebedovich

“For those of you who are ready to view footwear in an entirely new way, let me introduce you to Un/tied Shoes.

Launched in June 2019 in the guise of a fictitious online shoe store, Un/tied Shoes takes viewers on a mock lifestyle-driven online shopping experience, the kind in which each customer envisions their journey reaping the-ultimate-pair-of-shoes-that-will-finally-make-my-life-complete.” — Un/Tied site


Once A Time In Hollywood — Sony Pictures

“These pages step back into 1969, the year Easy Rider and The Wild Bunch were released, the year of Woodstock and the moon landing, a year of peace, love, tragedy and war. Before you experience Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood, take the time to immerse yourself in Rick Dalton’s world. Enjoy.” — Quentin Tarantino


Google Deep Fake Detection Dataset

“Google released an open-source database containing 3,000 original manipulated videos as part of its effort to accelerate the development of deepfake detection tools. It worked with 28 actors to record videos of them speaking, making common expressions, and doing mundane tasks. It then used publicly available deepfake algorithms to alter their faces.” — Technology Review


Facial Recognition Machine — New York Times

“Most people pass through some type of public space in their daily routine — sidewalks, roads, train stations. Thousands walk through Bryant Park every day. But we generally think that a detailed log of our location, and a list of the people we’re with, is private. Facial recognition, applied to the web of cameras that already exists in most cities, is a threat to that privacy.

To demonstrate how easy it is to track people without their knowledge, we collected public images of people who worked near Bryant Park (available on their employers’ websites, for the most part) and ran one day of footage through Amazon’s commercial facial recognition service. Our system detected 2,750 faces from a nine-hour period (not necessarily unique people, since a person could be captured in multiple frames). It returned several possible identifications, including one frame matched to a head shot of Richard Madonna, a professor at the SUNY College of Optometry, with an 89 percent similarity score. The total cost: about $60.” — New York Times


The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature- La Belle, ARTE

“The Creature awakens into a world of blinding whiteness — fitting, since he’s known nothing prior to waking up, and has never opened his eyes. In this moment as the game begins, we are equally as disoriented as he is; we are in control of his body, but can’t see where we’re going, as the screen is obscured by a thick white fog that he can only dispel by blundering blindly through it. His narration appears at the bottom of the screen in eloquent writing (we later learn that he is telling us this story in retrospect, guiding us through the harrowing first months of his life) but what we actually see is cluelessness. Having been through literally any high school or college literature class, we know what he doesn’t — that he is an experiment, an amalgamation of corpses come to life and promptly abandoned. But the Creature, having no concept of life, let alone science, doesn’t know this. He’s just left alone to stumble through the foggy, incomprehensible lab of Victor Frankenstein and find his way out.” — Gaming Nexus


Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter

“A prologue to a timely conversation on AI’s biggest promises and pitfalls. Lured by the possibility of emulating one of today’s most famous minds, we meet and engage with CHOMSKY_AI, an entity under construction, evolving from the arsenal of digital traces professor Noam Chomsky has left behind.” — Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter

Note: this work may be a 2020 release


Eva Stories — Mati Kochavi & Maya Kochavi

“…Eva’s Instagram account, based on a diary kept by the real Eva Heyman in 1944, will go live Wednesday afternoon for the start of Israel’s annual Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

In 70 short episodes, a British actress playing Eva takes followers along on her Holocaust journey: a happy bourgeois prewar existence interrupted by the Nazi invasion of her hometown in what was then Hungary; her family’s forced move into the cramped chaos of the ghetto; and the packed train that ultimately transports her to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp from which she never returns.” — New York Times


Space Waste — Daan Roosegaarde

“What connects us?” follows up on Studio Roosegaarde’s Space Waste Lab project, made in partnership with the European Space Agency, to think new uses for the 8.1 million kilos of space waste orbiting around the earth. With this drawing, smart vertical plotter Scribit brings you on a journey to space, where man-made debris has already begun to form orbits of trash, making it easier to visualize the crisis and convey its urgency. Tracking the flight of space waste helps a more conscious knowledge to start changing the world.” — Scribit


Observation — No Code

“What does it mean to “see” the world through the “eyes” of an artificial intelligence? Most of pop culture depicts AI as the wrathful harbingers of humanity’s end; the omega to our alpha, the apotheosis of the post-human apocalypse. Its priorities tend to remain distinctly human, with little grasp of what an artificial mind might “think” or “feel.” Stories about AI tend to be about us, and so they fail to grasp what we ourselves do not, or cannot, understand.

Observation, both narratively and mechanically, takes great pains to upend, or at the very least interrogate, these loaded assumptions in order to attempt to grasp at what it would actually mean to interpret the world through the senses of an artificial intelligence and whether such a thing, for lack of its precedence in reality, is even possible for a human being to conceive; to presuppose instead that what makes artificial intelligence so inherently terrifying is not that its existence represents an end to the human race, but rather a bridge to a uncertain future of yet greater horrors beyond human annihilation.” — Polygon


Colony Sound — Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe

“Colony Sound is a multi-room installation by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, spanning across both floors of the Marlborough London Gallery. The installation presents a resort of various different realities that are interconnected through a telecommunication system… It is all immersed within Freeman and Lowe’s San San Universe, a dystopian world in which burgeoning cultures are transfiguring the world around them… Each room is molded into presenting a story from which the art naturally arises. There are eleven rooms in total to immerse ourselves with, and each has its own story to tell.” — Flaunt


The Dead Are Speaking — Yle

“The Dead Are Speaking is a voice-controlled, non-linear audio drama for Google Home smart speakers. In the game, the player takes a role of a newspaper journalist in Helsinki of the 30s, asked to investigate a notorious Tattarisuo body part mystery. The story is inspired by a real life events, but also by juicy rumors around the event. The game, an interactive audio experiment, was funded by Yle Beta and implemented by a group of three students from Aalto University during a course of six months.” — YLE


A Lihna — Ricardo Laganaro

“A fully interactive VR narrative, “The Line” allows the user to unlock an enchanted world. Through this world they experience the story of Pedro and Rosa, two miniature dolls who are perfect for each other, but reluctant to break boundaries to overcome limitations and live out their love story.” — Arvore


1619 Project — New York Times Magazine

“The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.” — New York Times


Museum of the Hidden City — Walking Cinema

Musem of the Hidden City is rooted in the question of how neighborhoods might gentrify in a way that creates a mix rather than polarized populations. Based on the previous work of the Walking Cinema team , Museum of the Hidden City aims to both entertain and get audiences actively exploring one of the biggest urban questions of our time: how do cities improve without displacing those of humbler means.” — Museum of the Hidden City site


Tala’s World — Xandra

“Interactive media is making the jump to smart speakers, starting with a new serialized young adult adventure series produced by audio startup Xandra, and licensed exclusively by Amazon. “Tala’s World” consists of seven episodes, which invite listeners to come along on an audio adventure that involves collecting clues, interviewing suspects, and ultimately solving a crime.”
— Variety


Hypnospace Outlaw — Jay Tholen and Mike Lasch

“Jay Tholen and Mike Lasch’s Hypnospace Outlaw is a wonderfully weird simulation of late ’90s internet culture that’s more addictive than Shark Bites fruit snacks. In it, players are tasked with moderating an online hub called Hypnospace in hopes of using investigative tactics to take out hackers, scam artists, copyright infringers, and corrupt GeoCities trolls. There’s a lot at play as the narrative uses a point-and-click puzzler to skewer politics, corruption, and social structures, and it’s all encased in a customizable desktop and an online fallout of teen spaces, punk bands, virtual pets, New Age spiritualists, and pre-MySpace creatives. Hypnospace is a memeable head trip about digital villainy and how far we’ve come since the time of Winamp skins and Limp Bizkit covers.” — Thrillist


Gay Future — Conor Wright, Christina Friel, Ben Lapidus

“The premise of this podcast is a total delight: It purports to be a serialized audio fiction adaptation of a long-lost YA novel written in 2002 by Mike Pence. It plays like a fever dream of all the Indiana politician’s worst nightmares, particularly that in the future, everyone in America is gay thanks to the efforts of the “Gay Agenda.” Children are raised in orphanages before being sent off to Gay Academy, where they are sorted, Harry Potter–style, into one of two houses: Top or Bottom. But the narrative’s protagonist, Mikey (a thinly veiled Mary Sue), soon learns he might be the long prophesied straight hero who will restore straight order. The result is a playfully subversive piece of audio fiction that dexterously utilizes every genre trope from fantasy and dystopian sci-fi for maximum comic impact, filtered through the author Pence’s inability to conceive of gay life as anything beyond pastel pastiche. The meta-narrative framework allows for hilariously dated references like President Clay Aiken, and John Travolta as the Gay Academy version of a Sorting Hat. Gay Future’s excellent writing, performances, and sound design make this perhaps the only time one might look forward to more Mike Pence in their life.” — AV Club


Machine Hallucination — Refik Anadol

“From the images the AI creates visuals of New York buildings and numbers and letters that are played out as if they are being filtered, alongside more abstract glacial forms that comprises chunky, colourful pixels. Anadol likens the output to reshuffled memories of a human dream. He used a similar process to create the dream-like visuals projected across Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, but said that Machine Hallucination is “the peak point” of his exploration into artificial intelligence.” — Dezeen


Subtext —William O’Connell

“Jonathan is in trouble. After receiving a phone call warning that his apartment wasn’t safe and needed to be evacuated, a guy in a black ski mask kidnapped him, and the next thing he knows, he finds himself locked up in an office building. There’s a list of phone numbers there…and yours is one of them. Can you help him escape, and figure out why you were looped into this slightly menacing predicament? That’s the open question of Subtext, an SMS-driven experience that comes off as equal parts alternate reality game and virtual escape room, with a healthy side of paranoia.” — ARGN


Fortnite’s Marshmello concert — Epic

“When Marshmello took the stage inside of Fortnite earlier this month, it wasn’t just a glimpse of the future — it was also the biggest moment in Fortnite’s history. According to developer Epic Games, 10.7 million people attended the concert, which tops the previous largest in-game event; back in November, 8.3 million people witnessed the destruction of a strange purple cube.” — The Verge


It Chapter Two (Waterloo Vaults Experience) — Warner Bros. UK

“Underneath London’s Waterloo station, 11,000 square ft of sets inspired by the author Stephen King’s classic novel can be explored by those brave enough to go down there. We did, and here’s what happened…” — The Hook


A Tactile Hologram — University of Sussex

“Researchers at the School of Engineering and Informatics of the University of Sussex recently published a paper outlining how they created a method for displaying what could be described as a tactile hologram. Our new technology takes inspiration from old TVs which use a single color beam scanning along the screen so quickly that your brain registers it as a single image,” said Dr. Ryuji Hirayama” — Interesting Engineering


Maggie’s Story — Springbok Ent.

“ The story of a young ballet dancer battling cancer and fighting for her dreams, using volumetric capture technology to put the audience at the centre of her dancing and her wider life. Captured in Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre, this emotionally gripping, cinematically beautiful piece shows production technology pushed to the max.” — VIFF


Escape Lab — WGBH

“Escape Lab, the official name of the spacey escape room stream is not about broadcasting hard news but is instead focused on communicating a science curriculum developed with educational advisors. (Any of the emerging platforms initiative’s experiments have to relate to journalism, education, science, history, or arts and culture; one recently relived Woodstock and the moon landing through Instagram Stories in the style of The New York Times’ Holocaust revisit.) The plan for Escape Lab started with the idea of a science-themed educational escape room, then expanded to include Twitch as an interactive livestream.” — Nieman Lab


A Machine for Viewing — Charlie Shackleton, Richard Misek, Oscar Raby

“What does virtual reality as a medium have to do with cinema? This performance and VR experience revolves around the ambiguous relationship between the two. Beneath the audience in a physical cinema, one person wearing a VR headset is immersed in a virtual cinema. Their virtual experience is projected on the big screen of the real cinema. Three experiments in perception juxtapose the physical cinema experience with immersion in a virtual world.” — IDFA doc lab


Cosmos Within Us — Ben Farry and Tupac Martir

“Virtual reality and immersive technologies have the potential to place people inside a story. Spatial or 3D audio provides much of the sensory information and sensations that are crucial for enveloping a person in a VR environment, as shown by the recent ‘live cinema’ production, Cosmos Within Us. Described by its director as “75 per cent sound”, this critically acclaimed presentation combines film with live performance as it explores the nature of memory and loss.” — PSN Europe


Swipe Night — Tinder

“Moviemaking and matchmaking have come together in Tinder’s Swipe Night, an innovative and somewhat quirky bid to bring interactive entertainment into the dating app’s all-important collection of user data. Swipe Night launched on October 6 with the first of four episodes, each about five minutes long. The final episode will be available on the Tinder app this Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight. But what exactly is Swipe Night?

It’s billed as a first-of-its-kind micro-series with actors portraying characters in a scripted drama about the last night on Earth. Along the way, the characters break the fourth wall to ask the viewer questions or offer them choices. The decisions that each viewer makes at those junctures will tilt the narrative in different directions from that point forward — not unlike the Choose Your Own Adventure books series or last year’s Emmy-winning Dark Mirror episode, Bandersnatch.” — Deadline


Twin Peaks VR — Collider

“If you suspected that Twin Peaks VR would be a head trip, you guessed correctly. Collider and Showtime have released a trailer for the series’ official virtual reality experience ahead of its debut later in December, and it feels like a mirror of David Lynch’s psyche with the same strangeness as the series. The return to the Red Room is really just one part of your journey — you’ll also return to the train car where Laura Palmer was killed, a log cabin (but whose?) and Sheriff Truman’s office, complete with an unsettling Killer BOB orb. It’s clear this is tailor-made for the sort of fan who could quote whole scenes verbatim.” — Engadget


Thanks to everyone who helped to make this list possible

Big thanks to the following people who contributed to the discussion and/or provided project recommendations.

Illya Szilak, Robin Weinberg, Timothy Braun, Frank Rose, Michael Epstein, Michael Andersen, Élaine Dumont, Matthew Mills, Cristina Kotz Cornejo, Juliana Loh, Isis Masoud, Sarah Henry, Sutu Ai, Rachel Ginsberg, Nick Fortugno, Anne Richardson, Lucinda Clutterbuck, Heidi McDonald, Ricardo Laganaro, Brandon Powers, Van Sowerwine, Siobhan O’Flynn and Ioana Mischie.

However, please note that the above is a partial list as many others contacted me via direct message or email. Out of respect for their privacy, I’ve only included those who commented within a public Facebook post that I made on November 29th.

Columbia DSL

Exploring new forms and functions of storytelling at Columbia University School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab

lance weiler

Written by

Storyteller working with Code - Founding member & Director of the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab - curates @culturehacker

Columbia DSL

Exploring new forms and functions of storytelling at Columbia University School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab

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