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Venice VR Expanded 2020

The Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum in Oregon have been announced as the exclusive U.S. partner for the Virtual Reality (VR) arm of the Venice Biennale through its Venice VR Expanded 2020 programming. For the first time in its 125-year history, La Biennale di Venezia (the Venice Biennale) is offering its programming both online and at select venues around the globe, responding creatively to the travel and in-person gathering challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Venice VR Expanded 2020 is the official creative VR competition within the frame of the Venice International Film Festival (September 2 – 12). This year, since many audiences will not be able to come to Venice for COVID-19 related reasons, Venice will come to them. Venice VR Expanded 2020, the creative Virtual Reality competition of the 77th Venice International Film Festival, will take place September 2–12, offering access to 39 immersive VR projects from 24 countries through virtual reality headsets in satellite installations, including the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon. Portland will be joined in this satellite network by prestigious galleries, museums, institutions and VR leaders in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Geneva, Hangzhhou, Modena, Montreal, Moscow, Paris, Taipei, and Venice Mestre.
In Portland, the Venice VR Expanded 2020 experience will take place in the Fields Ballroom in the Portland Art Museum’s Mark Building. Participants will reserve one-hour increments and select from 39 different virtual-reality experiences featuring the best animated, non-fiction, and creative storytelling work from around the globe. The Ballroom will safely accommodate 14 participants per hour within social distancing rules, and all gear will be thoroughly sanitized between each visitor experience using the latest technology, Clean Box. Tickets go on sale at the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center websites the week of August 17.

Virtual Reality technology is widely accepted in the healthcare field. From diagnostics to treatment to practicing difficult surgical procedures, healthcare institutions are incorporating the technology in all the facets of the industry.

“We are so honored to have been selected as the only U.S. venue for the Venice Biennale’s newest and most innovative exhibition, Venice VR Expanded. It is a perfect fit with the Museum and Film Center’s recent Cinema Unbound programming and our ongoing dedication to finding new ways of seeing, accessing and experiencing art,” says Amy Dotson, Director of the Northwest Film Center and PAM’s Curator of Film & New Media. “VR is an immersive experience like no other that allows audiences to be more engaged, more empathetic, and travel to places real and imagined—all qualities that are especially valuable at this moment of great change in our community and our world.”
The selection of the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center as the sole U.S. venue for Venice VR Expanded 2020 came about thanks to previous collaboration between the Film Center’s director and Michel Reilhac, the founder and head of the Venice Biennale’s virtual-reality competition, who was honored earlier this year with the Northwest Film Center’s 2020 Cinema Unbound Award. Amy Dotson, who joined the Portland Art Museum in September 2019, has worked frequently with Reilhac as leader for the Venice Biennale’s College Cinema and Virtual Reality programs.

It Is Global. Virtual reality is not just a thing in the United States alone. People all over the globe are learning to embrace the technology. Some of the biggest virtual reality conventions are actually held in other nations. Some of the leading companies behind virtual reality are located overseas as well. Virtual reality is gradually becoming a great way to connect with people from around the world. No matter the distance, this technology can bring people together.

“Amy and I have been collaborating on projects for years, and her vision is far-reaching,” said Michel Reilhac, Curator of Immersive Media Content and Experiences for the Venice Biennale VR Competition. “As soon as I shared with her our idea for bringing Venice VR Expanded to Portland, she immediately said, “We are in!”

Virtual reality explained

Virtual reality (VR) as an art form promotes curiosity and wonder, allowing others to share their worlds and audiences to walk in those worlds to explore. VR Storytelling has gone from the realm of science fiction to a cutting-edge way to see and experience art. Where film manipulates time, VR as a medium manipulates space, allowing viewers who don the headsets the ability to enter a realistic or artistically rendered 360-degree experience through visuals and soundscapes. You don’t just see the work, you are inside of it.

A safe VR experience

The Ballroom will safely accommodate fourteen participants per hour within social distancing rules and all gear will be thoroughly sanitized by the latest technology, Clean Box. Clean Box sanitizes and eradicates up to 99.9% of bacteria, virus, and fungi in 1 minute and all participants will receive a fully cleaned headset.

How to participate in Venice VR Expanded 2020

Tickets will be available for purchase online at the Portland Art Museum and Film Center websites the week of August 17 and will cost $25 each. Portland Art Museum members and Northwest Film Center Silver Screen members receive a $5 discount. All selected VR content will be accessible to viewers 14+.

The year 1990’s saw huge developments in the virtual reality technology with the rise of arcade games. The Virtuality Group was the cutting edge of virtual reality, and launched a wide variety of arcade games and machines that let the players immerse themselves into amazing 3D visual experiences.

The Venice VR Expanded 2020 experience will take place in the Fields Ballroom in the Mark Building of the Portland Art Museum. Participants will reserve time in one-hour increments and can select from 39 different experiences of varying lengths. Featuring the very best animated, non-fiction, and creative storytelling work from around the globe from new voices and leaders in the immersive storytelling space, Venice VR Expanded 2020 in Portland will give audiences a chance to select from PAM-curated hour-long selections. An online catalog will be available prior to the event, and participants are encouraged to make their selections beforehand. The experiences will be delivered on the HTC Vive, Oculus Go and Oculus Riff headsets.
The Museum and Film Center have partnered with Joshua Alan Young and his team at Reflective Brands as consultants. Reflective Brands is a Portland-based immersive studio specializing in custom development for all things related to virtual and augmented reality. Additional support from HTC-Vive and Clean Box technologies have also been provided.
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