If you’ve ever been curious about VR technology but have never had a chance to try it, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE! TIFF’s POP 03 VR exhibit is running until this Sunday and offers guests an opportunity to explore 15 short films with a 360 degree perspective, and in some cases, the immersive viewing allows for interaction too. (It’s quite bizarre to watch individuals lift and point to imaginary things. This is definitely an exhibit where guests are in their own worlds.)
While we fiddled with the viewers and got comfortable twirling in the swivel chairs, we couldn’t help but feel awkward; experiencing VR is very new to us and it wasn’t intuitive. At times, we felt so clumsy that it reminded us of scenes in films and TV where characters experience ground-breaking innovation for the first time. (Think Mad Men when the first photocopy machine arrives.)
Beyond being visually mind-blowing, VR technology also has the power to explore empathy on a whole new level and give us a better understanding of how others live. In Cut-Off, a VICE Canada and NFB doc, audiences can immerse themselves in Shoal-Lake 40 (a First Nation’s reserve that borders Manitoba and Ontario) and see the horrific conditions these Canadians are living with, including no access to fresh water.
The doc specifically follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit as he speaks with youth about the state of Native reserves in Canada, and they question him about how he will help; how he will keep promises he’s made. While VR is often associated with the future of video games, we see huge potential in how it can help instigate positive change, worldwide.
Just like the radio, TV, VHS, photocopier, fax machine, cell phone, home computer, and THE INTERNET, we’re on the cusp of another moment in history, experience it first at TIFF! Just be warned: you might get dizzy.