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Alternate Realities exhibition at Lighthouse

Belongings, an immersive artwork on show at Lighthouse, Brighton this week.

The Alternate Realities exhibition from Sheffield Doc Fest is on tour and at Lighthouse in Brighton this week (22 – 30 October) as part of Brighton Digital Festival

I took a look at some of the work on Friday and highly recommend a visit to it in Brighton’s North Laine. Entry is free, but you will want to book a place for the Terminal 3 installation. 

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.

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Public notebook

SLR screening and a debate on the web, voyeurism and selfies

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Last week I attended the screening at Lighthouse of a BFI short film, SLR – a dark, troubling thriller about voyeurism, social media, selfies and hypocrisy. A heady mix.

Afterwards I chaired a panel with Wendy Grossman, Georgina VossChris Pinchen and the director, Stephen Fingleton.

SLR is a really interesting film – the director described the experience he was trying to create for the viewer as  like “being Cybil Shepherd on a date with Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver”. If he meant uncomfortable, tense and gripping, he got a direct hit on my amygdala.

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Image: Stephen Fingleton at the panel. 

I was surprised to learn that few short film directors agree to put their films online, preferring the slower, more rarefied audience that distribution via film festivals allows. Stephen Fingleton, the director had gone for reach, he said, wanting to get SLR seen by as many people as possible.

With 218,000 views and rising when I wrote this, he’s definitely getting a bigger audience for SLR than most short films.

Stephen Fingleton, is an engaging, impressive, talented chap. Speaking with him beforehand and during the panel he was first and foremost impressive as a deep thinker. He’d made a difficult and provocative film about this subject, but was continuing to consider the issues around it.

One of his scripts featured on the Hollywood Blacklist last year – a list of the best screenplays not yet in production. He’s now working on his first feature film – I’ll look forward to that.

The twenty minute film is available to watch online (and is embedded below).

SLR from Stephen Fingleton on Vimeo.

And, if you’re interested in seeing the panel discussion that followed – here’s the video.

Image credits: Still – Driver Films; Photo of Stephen Fingleton, Lighthouse Arts