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FoST is proud to announce that our collaboration with Meta and Felix & Paul Studios, SPACEWALK FROM THE ISS, has received two People’s Choice Webby awards within the Virtual & Remote section: “360° Video” and “Technology.”

For the finale of the Facebook Connect 2021 conference, the experience transported attendees to the International Space Station—where they took part in the first ever spacewalk in cinematic-quality virtual reality. 

Watch a recording of the spacewalk here.


A.I. Is Mastering Language. Should We Trust What It Says? 
// The New York Times

You may already know GPT-3: a computer program that can answer open-ended complex questions in perfectly composed sentences. OpenAI’s invention learned how to produce language—and write stories—by “reading” 700 gigabytes of data drawn from across the web and books. Two years after its release, GPT-3 has shown promise, but revealed some of its shortcomings: spreading insensitive language, conspiratorial misinformation, and shaky medical advice. All of these failures stem from the fact that the A.I. is a student of the internet; and indeed, the internet is full of all sorts of untrustworthy information. Steven Johnson’s longform piece explores how OpenAI and others are thinking through this problem, instilling moral and civic values in the software, and applying a human, editorial influence to the development of the A.I. What does truly democratic technology look like?
Internet Communities Are Battling over Pixels
// The Washington Post

More than six million Reddit users collectively generated a massive, collaborative piece of artwork. Each user posted single, tiny, colored pixels to the r/Place subreddit—72 million pixels in total—which combined to create the shared digital collage. Because a user can only submit one pixel every five minutes, coordination is key: communities work together on Discord and subreddits to stitch together a piece of the canvas. The phenomenon imagines a novel type of internet public, in a moment when the internet's “de facto public square” is a widely debated idea. Watch a time lapse of r/Place here.
How Epic Games is changing gaming—and maybe the metaverse
// Fast Company
The long-awaited release of Unreal Engine 5 is here, and it's more than a software update—UE5 is the realization of an essential tool in the future of games, entertainment, and virtual storytelling. Epic Games created its Unreal Engine platform for developing games like Fortnite; now, Epic is pushing toward the goal of creating digital experiences of such high quality that they’re indistinguishable from motion pictures. The software pushes new frontiers of fidelity: uncannily realistic visuals and AI-powered virtual humans are becoming the standard. Consider watching a demo of “The Matrix Awakens,” an interactive storytelling experience built entirely in UE5. Hollywood filmmakers and musicians leverage the tool for virtual production and animation; architects lean on it for design; brands look to UE5 for pioneering virtual fashion, and so much more.


"A great game will provide the tools that enable you to intuitively have these experiences through the rule system. That's a great game—one that provides the right degrees of freedom and prompting to enable you to then co-author an experience with other players or within the game itself."

Kathryn Hymes

Kathryn Hymes & Hakan Seyalıoğlu
Thorny Games cofounders Kathryn Hymes and Hakan Seyalıoğlu discuss inventing games as children, play as an integral part of being human, and designing games that allow players to co-create the story.
Margaret Atwood
In this re-released episode, literary icon Margaret Atwood discusses the future and the effects that stories can have upon it.

 Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab announced its annual "Digital Dozen" of innovative, digitally enabled storytelling projects. The list honors Breonna's Garden, an AR experience art- and technical- directed by FoST exhibitor Sutu.

 Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert recently released their new film Everything Everywhere All At Once, a genre-less epic about the multiverse which has been earning great reviews. Back in 2014, the duo won the first FoST Prize for their interactive film Possibilia.

 Earth Month in VR: Meta showcased Quest experiences that enable Earth exploration and climate advocacy, including work by FoST exhibitors Felix & Paul Studios.
 Punchdrunk opened their long-awaited new show, The Burnt City, in London last week. FoST Favorite Felix Barrett co-directed the immersive retelling of the fall of Troy, imagined between the neon backstreets, sake bars, and techno nightclubs of a contemporary Troy.

 FoST exhibitor Sam Barlow's newest interactive trilogy Immortality—the mystery of Marissa Marcel—is an official games selection for the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. Tickets are available May 2 for a live play-through of his project at an upcoming Tribeca Games event. 

 Our friends at Two Bit Circus announced a second location in Dallas, Texas, due to open this Fall. The high-tech micro-amusement park will take over a 35,000 square foot facility.

Below, find a list of some of the storytelling experiences we recommend this month: three in-person and one virtual project. Shoot us an email if you come across anything that should be included next month!

Experience Immersive Theater Performances by The Exodus Ensemble

The Exodus Ensemble is an 11-member immersive theater company based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Led by director April Cleveland, the ensemble performs a slate of high-energy, deeply engaging shows, including BATHSHEBA and IVANOV. The first piece the group created, IVANOV, is a contemporary adaptation of an Anton Chekhov drama—staged between the rooms of a historic home in Santa Fe. Keep up with their upcoming performances here.

Investigate a Murder Mystery with Futuristic Wikipedia
This is Neurocracy, a virtual, interactive narrative experience that offers an anthology of compelling sci-fi stories inside and between the hyperlinked articles of an online encyclopedia. The story transpires in the year 2049; it is both a crowdsourced alternate reality game and a hypertext novel, opening with a high-profile assassination that you are asked to investigate and solve. Play the first episode of the experience.

“Future of Dining” Experience Returns to NYC
Aerobanquets RMX is back in New York. After a sold-out run at the James Beard Foundation in 2019, the team behind the groundbreaking immersive experience hailed as “the future of dining” by the Washington Post is offering an exclusive engagement in collaboration with 99 Scott. Aerobanquets RMX brings guests on a multisensory journey based on the Italian Futurist Cookbook. Get tickets here.

Attend Public Performances of Los Angeles Immersive Invitational
LA immersive theater patrons: mark your calendar for the public performances of the Los Angeles Immersive Invitational on Sunday, May 15. The competition invites up to eight teams to conceptualize, rehearse, and perform an original 10–15 minute immersive production—all in 48 hours or less. During its last edition, two of the shows created during the weekend, The Sleepover and Casting, went on to receive full stagings. Keep an eye out for tickets to the public showings.

Imagine Extraterrestrial Encounters
For readers living or traveling in London, consider visiting the Serpentine Galleries to experience Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s Alienarium 5—a speculative, site-specific environment that invites us to imagine possible encounters with extraterrestrials. A new multi-user VR piece produced by VIVE Arts and developed by Lucid Realities contemplates alternative forms of connection through extraterrestrial embodiment, while an immersive 360-degree collage titled Metapanorama uses outer space as a framework to bring humans, non-humans, and extraterrestrials together.
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