Right now, there are minds being blown in Melbourne, immersing themselves in VR experience Exquisite Corpse by BADFAITH’s Collective of artists and filmmakers Daniel Crooks, Luci Schroder, Natasha Pincus, Shaun Gladwell, Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Tony Albert, curated and produced by VR pioneer Leo Faber.
“Exquisite Corpse was always just going to be an experiment,” says Faber. “We didn’t know what the film would be like until we joined all its parts. For us it is less the shock of the new that is exciting and more of the shock of the unknown.
“We are very much aware of just how unformed and early stage we are in relation to VR as a storytelling device. As a reaction to that we’re very interested in trying to do things in a much less linear style, we embrace the experimental, we summon our inner punk, and just create. The more we can create the more we can learn what works and what doesn’t.”
The initial inspiration was a parlour game of the same name played by surrealists back in the day, with the premise being that players were asked to collectively write or draw a story or a picture with limited knowledge of what the other players were going to do.
In step artists Tony Albert (head), Daniel Crooks (legs) and Shaun Gladwell (neck), and filmmakers Natasha Pincus (heart), Amiel Courtin-Wilson (hands) and Luci Schroder (pelvis), who along with the rest of crew gave their time for free to see this project to fruition and into your eyeballs.
“The spark behind us creating the work was just a want to create something that all the artists and filmmakers in BADFAITH could contribute to,” says Faber. “Initially I had the idea to post a 360 camera to each one of our collective with the simple instructions to shoot some footage and then send it to the next artist to do the same… with the idea that we’d then create something with a mixture of the footage that was shot. I mentioned this to Shaun Gladwell and with his art background he saw parallels to the Exquisite Corpse concept…so we posed the question of how do you take this idea of the Exquisite Corpse game and translate that into an immersive experience and what production methodology do you employ to bring this to life?
“All the artists created their works without knowing what anyone else was making,” Faber continues. “That was one of the main rules. We all knew which body parts we had but not how we planned to bring those parts to life in an immersive sense. Myself as curator and producer oversaw the entire production, I was the only one who knew what everyone was planning on shooting. I was the sounding board that the artists had when formulating their concepts, they asked me questions and I helped them work out how to articulate their ideas in an immersive sense. As curator it was my role to try and make the disparate works feel like a cohesive whole via the opening titles and music, the nod to Marcel Duchamp and his Anemic Cinema video which plays as an Easter Egg behind you when you are facing the credits. We worked with VR cinematographers Michael Beets and Lester Francois and did our post work through Paper Moose.”
And like all great experimentation, what’s the take away? “I think the main take away is that until you actually begin making immersive content you can’t really envision a finished product in your head. All the artists in BADFAITH have come from successful backgrounds working in their chosen mediums and fields, when they conceptualise they play it out in their heads…but with VR it’s hard to do this until you begin making work. Exquisite Corpse was the first chance that some of us got to really start that process and we’re all very excited to keep making new works.”
Which includes plans to make this an annual event, with Exquisite Corpse 2 on the planning table.
As for Exquisite Corpse I, it will play at MIFF and international film festivals soon to be announced.
Main Image Credit: Neck by Shaun Gladwell for Exquisite Corpse. Image supplied by BADFAITH