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Decompensation:
5-channel 360° video-Performance

Choreographer and Performer: Laura Stokes
Composer and sound designer: Soosan Lolavar
Director and media Designer: Nima Dehghani

"Decompensation" installation by Nima Dehgani “They come from a reality, which is not real, anymore.”

Decompensation is a performative VR piece that attempts to recreate the psychological stages which refugees pass through when moving and settling into a new social/cultural context over the span of many years:
Early Arrival, Destabilization, Exploration, Return to Normal life, and Decompensation.

de·com·pen·sa·tion
dēˌkämpənˈsāSH(ə)n/
nounMEDICINE
the failure of an organ (especially the liver or heart) to compensate for the functional overload resulting from disease.
PSYCHIATRY
the failure to generate effective psychological coping mechanisms in response to stress, resulting in personality disturbance or disintegration, especially that which causes relapse in schizophrenia.

In this participatory piece, the notion of “Displacement” is communicated through music, performance, and 360-degree video.

The viewer experiences three different presences:
1. Seeing other participants
2. Becoming a participant
3. Immersion in the virtual world of the performer.

An immersive perspective provided by virtual reality is hoped to inspire an empathy for the displaced individual. Therefore, VR aims to function as a type of empathy machine in which the immersive quality enables a sensory experience.

Choreographer and Performer Laura Stokes in Decompensation

Choreographer and Performer Laura Stokes in Decompensation

The work displaces the viewer in order to contemplate the displacement of the refugee. The immersive experience provided by virtual reality can increase empathy, through sensory experience. By activating the body and the senses, virtual reality brings new topologies of emotion, pleasure, and passion to the landscape of interaction.

Biographies:
Laura Stokes is a Pittsburgh-based movement artist and educator. Her greatest curiosity is how artistic movement practices and creative physical play affect the human condition from early childhood through adulthood. She aims to help integrate creative artistry and physicality into the educational world by dissolving dichotomies around the role of the body in learning. Laura’s collaboration with visual media artist Nima Dehghani on Decompensation, was her initiation into the world of choreographing dance for virtual reality.

Other most recent projects include: El Eswitch, a choreographed solo exploring the dynamics of code-switching in language and culture; co-creating and teaching The Contact Lab, workshops in Contact Improvisation with Jean-Paul Weaver; and her ongoing dedication to developing innovative creative movement classes for children. Laura holds a B.A. in dance from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.

Nima Dehghani is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and architect. Born in Tehran, Iran in 1986.

Humans, communication, individual conflicts and social discriminations with allusions to politics, have been the subject of most of his works. With a background in architecture and theater, he strives to build the most comprehensible virtual venues to convey his thoughts, to focus on the notion of displacement, home, diaspora and the purest relationship between human and space: Migration.

Nima works predominantly in the medium of performing arts and digital media and his goal is to find the most effective ways to influence the audience using new media. His research revolves around the core of Middle Eastern studies, social behavior in online networks and performativity of social actions.

Nima got his BA’s in Architecture from University of Science and Technology in Iran, and then moved to the US to get his Master of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University with emphasis on digital media and performance.

Most of his past works have been performed or shown in Iran before 2013, and after that mainly in the US and different festivals in Spain, UK, Belgium, Czech, Georgia, and Germany.

As a playwright and director, Nima has won several awards, the last one before he leaves Iran was “The best young director of the year” in 2012.

Decompensation screens at FIVARS 2016 September 16-18th, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.

Get tickets now.

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The FIVARS virtual and augmented reality stories festival will be dropping down into the very heart of Toronto in the very heart of the largest conference and expo in the industry on the Eastern seaboard June 25th through 27th 2016. The conference and expo, run by Constant Change Media Group Inc, which controls VRTO – one of Toronto’s largest VR Meetup groups, hosts Intensive Training in 360 video production, VR authoring, hacking the Metaverse (web VR) plus two days and two tracks of conferences, panels, discussions and keynotes from such luminaries as Brett Leonard (director of Lawnmower Man and Virtuosity), Philip Lelyveld director of VR program at Entertainment Technology program and at University of Southern California USC) and speakers from across North America and beyond.

The FIVARS pavilion, a specially ticketed event, features the same proprietary NoLine ticketing system and will showcase a preview custom selection from the 2016 programme, including several world premieres and new technological approaches to immersive storytelling.

For more information visit the Expo’s official site at http://conference.virtualreality.to

FIVARS presented by VRTO 2015 – In review
The inaugural Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories in Toronto took place between Friday September 18th and Monday September 21st, 2015.

The focus of this event was the examination of new narrative possibilities with the emergent media platform of virtual and augmented reality. Through panel discussions and a carefully selected catalog of exhibits – each representing a different possible presentational framework – FIVARS squeezed the discourse on new potentialities for storytelling, attempting important distinctions between games, ambient installations and actually narrative projects.

DorkShelf magazine said “FIVARS at least offers a glimpse at the artistic potential of an entirely new medium,” and Culturetrip said “Here are some experiences that will turn VR skeptics into fanatics.”

VRTO and the FIVARS crew provided:
Event Stats

  • 1000+ VR viewings served
  • over 4 days (including an educational outreach day at Toronto’s Metro Hall Rotunda, and People’s Choice Award at the Cadillac Lounge on Queen St. W)
  • a total of 12 viewing stations
  • 24 different VR experiences
  • representing 11 different countries
    • Canada
    • England
    • Germany
    • Ireland
    • Mongolia
    • New Zealand
    • Norway
    • Russia
    • Syria
    • UK
    • USA

We had a diverse selection – ranging from cinematic to CG, relaxation to horror, documentaries and educational experiences – to startle us awake into alternate, visceral experiential possibilities. All in attendance had a great chance to view a minimum of 30 minutes of VR experiences and many returned for seconds and thirds.

Public enjoys virtual reality at Toronto's Metro Hall Rotunda

Public enjoys virtual reality at Toronto’s Metro Hall Rotunda

Councilman Norm Kelly and his wife Charlotte at FIVARS, Metro Hall public outreach event

L to R: Festival director Keram Malicki-Sánchez, Councilman Norm Kelly and his wife Charlotte, VR Community Liaison Joseph Ellsworth, at FIVARS, Metro Hall public outreach event

People’s Choice Award Winners
The People’s Choice award was divided into two categories: one for interactive experiences, and the other for immersive video experiences.

The ballot voting system:

  • Based on a 1-5 rating
  • 1 staff-attended ballot per viewing
  • Average results based on total score divided by number of ballots

Ballot results for all submissions was a score of 3 or higher, with many of them being over 4 out of 5. This was a strong indicator we got the right content, and that people enjoyed watching the way it was presented at FIVARS.

FIVARS - Meg White

This is Meg White, one of FIVARS’ specially trained volunteers.


The People Have Spoken
In the interactive experience – as shown on the Oculus Rift – the winner was Apollo 11, providing the ability to experience John F. Kennedy’s unimaginably ambitious speech about landing on the moon, the first moments of space travel, and the legimitately transportive experience of sitting in the pod atop the massive Saturn V rocket as you can shift positions slightly in the seated experience to look from multiple angles into takeoff.

This VR experience from VR Immersive Education, located in Ireland, was over 19 minutes long, and we believe it shall have a great future in education at schools, museums, and other locations.

The People’s Choice award for video experiences, as shown on the Samsung Gear VR, went to Sonar, a rendered 360 stereoscopic video that nonetheless feels highly immersive.

In this piece, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg GmbH used a combination of 360 3D CGI and atmospheric audio to create a dread-inducing approach wherein the unknown turns out to be far worse than you imagined. Utilizing the sense of scale and personal space that virtual reality uniquely affords as a medium, Sonar arrived to us Germany, and it is just over 6 minutes long.

Man watching VR
Every experience proved a fascinating experiment in its own right, and simply because it may have received a lower score in no way diminished its significance, but rather provided great insight into how various techniques resonate with a broad spectrum of end users.

And Beyond
Next year, we expect a much larger audience as awareness of VR and AR grows. According to https://gamingbuff.com, in the coming years, there will be many more stations, including a greater diversity of hardware and a variety of AR experiences as well. We will make sure to
Transfer Electric communications when we send out the call for submissions – roughly halfway throughout the year – we look forward to seeing your entries. Based on what we have seen so far, we expect many of your teams & companies will have new submissions for next year’s festival, as well as many more new companies and countries in attendance. (more…)