IMMERSION 5.0: VR Creation Lab
Tuition: $1200*includes food, lodging and technical support for VR production | tuition and travel subsidies available by application
The School of Making Thinking is currently accepting applications for IMMERSION 5.0: VR Creation Lab, a 3-week virtual reality creation residency program and an invitation for artists to engage the racial history of America within the context of a southern city: Wilmington, North Carolina. Bringing multiple meanings of immersion together, this residency is an opportunity to put critical thinking into practice through immersive media projects. Through this residency, artists will learn about Wilmington’s racial history and learn to see how it shapes the present, whilst becoming acquainted with the growing field of virtual reality (VR) and developing and executing an immersive media project.
Building on the belief that meaningful work is born out of a deep sensitivity for the context from which it emerges, we will immerse ourselves on every level. We will build group rapport through collective experiences, embodied workshops, intimate collaboration and co-mentorship of creative processes. We will engage the history of Wilmington through curated film screenings, local tours, conversations and readings, allowing our research to inform our projects and process. The tools of virtual reality have created a new space of exploration for the vanguard of immersive media and performance. The IMMERSION program asks: How do we root our virtual realities within the political and social realities from which they emerge? How do we resist the escapist trends of immersive media and deepen our relationship to place and to each other through immersion? What layers of historical, cultural, colonial, oppressive, personal and social fabrics map onto our movements in a space? How might we engage these realities actually, and virtually? As technologies evolve, how do artists adapt?
The first week of the session will be focused on group and site introductions, local tours, as well as developing technical familiarity with the 360 cameras, technology and gear. In the second week, we will create immersive media projects with our co-residents as collaborators and crew. The third week will be devoted to learning and beginning post production, culminating in a work-in-progress sharing of projects at the end of the residency.
We are seeking participants who have capacity to engage in an intensive production schedule, interest in developing skills and familiarity with immersive media and 360 video, and a desire to do anti-racist work within media production. Prior experience with 360° cameras and technology will not be required. Session participants will have access to 360° video capture cameras, training in how to use these cameras, as well as technical support during the filming and editing process. Please note that IMMERSION 5.0 has access to limited computer workstations, and participants should be prepared to work from their own laptop and hard drives if they have access to them.
Pieces created at the residency will exhibit at the VR Salon at the Cucalorus Festival, November 15-29, 2023. Residents will be encouraged to return to Wilmington for the festival to participate as exhibiting artists.
Akeema-Zane is an artist and researcher whose practice centers the literary, music, cinematic and performance traditions. She has been artist-in-residence, student, fellow and performer at Groundation Grenada, Cave Canem, The Maysles Documentary Center, Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, and The School of Making Thinking. At The School of Making Thinking, she was a part of the 2018 Immersion 2.0 cohort, where she designed her first Virtual Reality experience which featured herself. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors of The School of Making Thinking. As a native New Yorker she is proud to have spent many years working at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture where she worked as an archival curriculum researcher for her last post there. Collaboration is a major tenet of the artists’ practice and one of her collaborative works “Sonic Escape Routes: Shall We Fly Or Shall We Resist” was featured in the 59th Ann Arbor Film Festival. Her published writings include: There’s a Monopoly on Change, Interlude, When Money Can’t Buy You Home and Basil Grows from Mother Earth.
Clay Scofield (they/them/their) is an undisciplined artist dabbling in a variety of media to find meanings that fall through the cracks of specialization. They engage in a process of transformational play throughout their creative practices across media. Their work includes performance, video, poetry, and essay exploring how to being, and so on. They strive towards models of artistic engagement that prioritize world-building, self-making (or -being?), radical-imagining, connection, and process over production.
They are excited by the capacity for magic, experimentation, and play in virtual reality, 360 and immersive technology, and look forward to working with future IMMERSION cohorts. From 2014 – 2021, they collaborated with a series of toys they created in their image through 3D scanning and printing technologies.
Their work has been featured in publications including Number, Nashville Arts, Wussy, and Dinner Bell. Exhibitions and performances include Cucalorus Festival, SeedSpace, unrequited leisure, and Tiger Strikes Asteroid. They have been an artist-in-residence with Cucalorus, SMT, Lazuli, and the JHU-MICA Film Centre.
They were born and raised in the rural U.S. South. They received an MFA in digital art from Indiana University and a BA from Vanderbilt University. They are currently based in Iowa City, studying poetry at The Iowa Writers’ Workshop and serving on the board of directors of SMT. They are 70 percent water, 100 percent heart.
Sara Fenton got her start as a production coordinator on Canadian Geographic Presents, helping a team of intrepid documentarians track wolves, bears, and diamonds in the Arctic. Now LA-based, Fenton has produced and directed short-form fiction, nonfiction, and 360-degree Cinematic VR experiences.
“Journey to Anywhere”, Her recent 360 Cinematic VR film received a nod from the Inter Collegiate XR Festival hosted at her alma-mater USC School of Cinematic Arts.
An Immersion 2.0 resident artist at The School of Making Thinking and facilitator of their IMMERSION 3.0, Sara co-curated the Immersive VR Salon for the 25th annual Cucalorus Film Festival. Fenton co-taught 360 Narrative Filmmaking at CalArts with fellow Immersion alum gloria galvez.
As the former director of communications for USC’s Media Institute for Social Change, Sara champions socially-minded filmmakers, changing the world, one film at a time. Fenton has worked on the award winning documentaries al imam, Raising Citizens of the World, Making a Murderer and Downfall: The Case against Boeing and is proud to be bringing to the screen upcoming stories about women in STEM, female violent offenders, and a deep dive into gender disparity in Hollywood.
Fenton’s films have screened at Sundance, Slamdance, Cannes, Hot Docs, Cucalorus, Palm Springs and National Geographic.
When not making movies, she can be found rolling around as her alter ego: #416 Margaret Splatwood – a member of the LA Derby Dolls Fresh Meat Banked track RollerDerby Team.