As soon as you enter Lighthouse you will see the amazing Belongings taking up most of the long right-hand wall in the gallery. It’s an interactive work the like of which I’d not come across before.
Life-sized greyed out images of people sitting on stools are projected on to the wall. Connecting to the “Belongings” Wifi you press and hold a button and a circle appears — multiple visitors can do this at once, you quickly work out which is yours — and you select a figure and who then gets up off their stool and is rendered in colour.
Through your headphones, you can hear them as they tell the story of the object they are holding. It turns out that each a refugee and the object they carry is one of the few things they brought with them.
I found the work fascinating on so many levels. Coming from Sheffield Doc Fest it is, of course, a documentary. The technology is fascinating but the stories are even more compelling and beautifully told — the photography, the staging and sound are all amazing. Immersive experiences — VR, AR, etc — can often feel a little like watching someone at an arcade playing a game, or like watching a film — but this artwork became part of a crowded room, where people were interacting with it, talking about it, being around it. It fitted right in with a human social space, not demanding to be used, not taking over the conversation, but a complement, a part and sometimes the focus of conversations. It’s a wonderful thing in so many ways.
There’s more about Belongings here.
Alternate Realities is on at Lighthouse in Brighton until September 30. Take a look at other Brighton Digital Festival events here including content strategy conference Curio and pop-up sensation Tiny Disco, both of which colleagues of mine from Brilliant Noise have had a hand in making happen. Full disclosure: I’m very proud to serve as Chair at Lighthouse.