First Session is a 2-day conference at the crossroads of arts and technology.

30th – 31st May 2019, Helsinki, Finland

The conference will offer new ideas and knowledge for professionals, creators and artists of all medias and arts. First Session will help you envision how to immerse and enthrall your audience or customers. We will be exploring technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, projection mapping and spatial sound – the latest trends in audio, visual, and spatial art.

For those working in arts – be that theatre, dance, music or even the museum field – the conference will impart you with enough knowledge of the current and future techniques so that your team and association can implement future thinking into your work.

Conference sessions include keynotes, demos, hero cases, master classes, workshops and networking. Among our speakers are award winning producer at Royal Shakespeare Company Sarah Ellis, Head of Experiments in Art and Technology at Nokia Bell Labs Domhnaill Hernon, awarded VR/AR director Gabo Arora and Head of Innovation & Partnerships at London Philharmonia Luke Ritchie.

On the conference’s second day we will also hear the concepts of the First Session competition. We will see international creative teams answer our call for projects with a concept for an immersive art piece. The chosen conceptual piece will be realised in association with Opera Beyond by 2020, and internationally promoted, so to inspire and spread the word of a new age in the performing arts.


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Domhnaill Hernon

Domhnaill Hernon is the Head of Experiments in Art and Technology at Nokia Bells Labs, world renowned industrial research center.

Gabo Arora

Gabo Arora is an award-winning immersive artist, filmmaker and Founder/Creative Director of LightShed, a storytelling, technology and research studio collaborating with the industry’s leading creative pioneers and entrepreneurs focused exclusively on emerging technologies currently known as VR, AR and AI.

Galit Ariel

Galit Ariel is the author of ‘Augmenting Alice – The Future of Identity, Experience and Reality’, a notable keynote speaker and thought-leader in the field of immersive interaction.

Ike Rings

Rings is a creative technologist who is passionate about the intersection of art, science and technology. He is currently working at Futurice as a specialist of emerging technologies such as Mixed Reality and Social Robotics, both of which explore and experiment with various aspects of human-machine interaction.

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin

Jean-Pascal is the Co-founder and President of Headspace Studio and Head of Sound of Headspace Studio (Montréal). Jean-Pascal believes in a vision of the future where everything you experience digitally is more immersive, more emotional, and more meaningful — because of what you hear.

Kathy Wang

Kathy is the Director of Product Strategy & Business Development at Magic Leap, where she helps lead strategic and content partnerships as well as company and product-level strategy.

Kim Vincs

Professor Kim Vincs is Director of the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. Her work spans creative technology for performance, digital scenography, VR, AR and robotics applications for motion capture technology.

Luke Ritchie

Luke Ritchie is Head of Innovation & Partnerships at the Philharmonia Orchestra. The Orchestra has had a dedicated Digital department for nearly a decade, using technology to connect with a growing audience beyond the traditional Concert Hall, creating new artistic experiences that allow you to step inside the Orchestra.

Marcel Karnapke

Marcel Karnapke lives in Berlin and is developer, lecturer and co-founder of the artist collective “CyberRäuber”, which realizes new formats and applications for Virtual Reality in a theatre context.

Momo the Robot

Momo the robot is an open-source InMoov robot designed by Gaël Langevin. Having been born to Futurice approximately two years ago, Momo has achieved surprisingly lot.

Olli-Pekka Koivunen

Olli-Pekka Koivunen has worked at the Hämeenlinna City Theatre and the Finnish National Opera as Head of lighting since 1994 and as a lighting designer since 2000.

Peter Vesterbacka

Peter Vesterbacka is a global entrepreneur from the Heart of Eurasia, Helsinki, Finland. Branded communities co-created and initiated by Peter include the HP Bazaar, Mobile Monday, Slush and Startup Sauna to name a few. He was the Mighty Eagle at Angry Birds for many years taking that brand to unprecedented heights.

Richard Slaney

Richard Slaney is the Managing Director of 59 Productions, leading projects for the company as a Project Director alongside acting as Executive Producer for larger scale works.

Rob Morgan

Rob Morgan is a game writer, digital dramaturge, and co-founder and Creative Director of immersive AR studio Playlines.

Sarah Brin

Sarah Brin is a creative producer specializing in play, new media, and accessibility. She currently works as the Digital Storytelling Program Manager at Meow Wolf.

Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is an award winning producer currently exploring new artistic initiatives as Director of Digital Development for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). She has been listed in the top 100 most influential people working in Gaming and Technology by The Hospital Club and Guardian Culture Professionals.

Tanja Bastamow

Tanja Bastamow is a digital artist specializing in virtual scenography. Bastamow’s key areas of interest are immersive virtual environments, how new technology affects visual storytelling, combining live performance with real-time virtual elements and finding new visual styles in digital expression.

Demos and experiences

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Half Life VR

Half Life VR is a Virtual Reality short film directed by Robert Connor capturing the immersive spirit of choreographer Sharon Eyal’s dance work Half Life performed by the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Hold On – Nomadic VR

Based on Corinne Linder’s life experiences, the Hold On VR experience transports viewers-users into the world of contemporary circus and the aerial disciplines.

Nuanc3d Virtual Reality

Nuanc3d is the world’s first volumetrically captured and virtually experienced contemporary circus performance, bringing air acrobats right within the reach of the viewer.

Pommern Dance on the Deck

Dance on the Deck celebrates s/s Pommern’s 100 days round-the-world voyage back to the 1930s. The visitors get to know the crew and participate in life on board.Dance on the Deck is an interactive vi