Opera Beyond Conference 2022
Visioning Stages Beyond
The way of experiencing art and entertainment is undergoing big changes. Many possibilities in new technologies are yet to be discovered. Pioneer, thinker, artist, polymath or adventurer – will you join us on our journey of discovery?
Topics at the Opera Beyond Conference 2022: Visioning Stages Beyond include cutting edge technologies, such as XR, AI, NFTs, volumetric video, spatial audio, 3D projections and metaverse. We’ll cover wider trends in the branch and weak signals surrounding interactivity and immersion.
During the pandemic, many organizations have succeeded in enriching their content with new methods. We will share these learnings with the art, entertainment and event industries. Themes like diversity & equality in arts, expectations of generation Z in culture and entertainment consumption, ecosystems and the role of art in society amidst change will be on the table as well. Time inevitably brings change – here’s to moving beyond!
The conference (13-14 September 2022) is a meeting place, a forum and a catalyst for ideas. The two-day event at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki will include speeches and presentations, debates, networking and envisioning new worlds together.
Stay tuned for speaker and program announcements and secure your seat by purchasing a ticket. We’re excited to see you in September!
“Whether it’s the thrill of a rollercoaster ride, an intense look in your eyes inside a huge labyrinth or a moment in a virtual paradise that makes you question the life around you – it all comes down to something that for me is the juicy essence of immersive experiences: a personal, though somehow shared adventure. An adventure packed in a fleeting moment, that has the potential to be transformative.”
Norvio is a multidisciplinary sound designer and sound artist. His background is in electronic music and works nowadays between different art forms and genres. He is interested in rhythmical and arrhythmical masses of sound, using acoustic and sampled sounds as a material of his work. Norvio has made sound and music for contemporary dance and circus, installations, documentary films and different artists.
“I’m really interested in how the digital programming the culture sector developed out of necessity during the pandemic can continue to be relevant and impactful in enabling access and increasing diversity of audiences, especially among people who can’t or don’t attend in person.”
“There are always untold stories behind the dominant narratives. Whereas music in cinema has the ability to convey the true emotions of the characters despite what is seen on the screen, in augmented reality experiences, sounds and voices could play a similar role in disclosing an invisible layer of alternative truth hidden from the common eye. I’m super excited about the possibilities of audio augmented reality as an art form for telling stories connected to real environments and real people. I’m also excited when getting to experiment with new ways to use technology for narrative and artistic purposes.”
“In recent work with 00100ENSEMBLE we have been playing around with the balance of personal and shared experiences. In all of the projects one of the aims is to create a sense of belonging to a momentary community. By creating a safe and curated multi sensory world we give the audience a choice to wander freely and lose themselves following their own intuition. In a performance where the options can feel limitless, they get the chance to surprise themselves and challenge their own behavioural habits.”
“I have been working with opera singers, pop musicians, video game designers and iconic architecture like Halle am Berghain in Berlin, the Venice Biennale, Serpentine Galleries and ARoS Art Museum, to explore a new realm for art. I am excited about new formats where spatial exhibitions from the art world meet the immersive and narrative qualities of theater, with the song and emotional qualities of opera.”
Lilli Paasikivi has worked as Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera since 2013. In her work, Paasikivi has set out to reshape the structures of opera and to find ways to combine technology with opera. In 2019, Paasikivi launched Opera Beyond – a project which aims to apply new technological possibilities and tools in opera and ballet.
“I’m inspired by how queer communities create safer spaces in order to facilitate action which society at large might define as ‘risky’ in a way that validates the boundaries of everyone involved. If translated to art, this for me gives a glimpse of art which can take more meaningful risks while also taking better care of everyone involved.”
“Questions I ask and that guide me currently: Where can the new immersive and web3 technologies that we are developing take us? What are the problems we can solve? Which systems can we change, what new economies can we create where it is needed the most, and how can we make sure that we spend LESS and more QUALITY time in this next iteration of the Internet?”
Paddy Dillon is one of the UK’s leading theatre architects, responsible for the regeneration of the National Theatre, in London, alongside many other projects. In 2020 he initiated the Theatre Green Book, a project to help theatre-makers work together towards a sustainable future for theatre.
“I’m really interested in democratizing the VR/AR/Metaverse technology to make it accessible to everyone, I’m passionate about the people and the community that make up the future of these transformative industries. The intersection of arts and innovation has never been more prevalent than now, I personally get inspired by it.”
Urs Dierker is the founder of Circular Costume Design (CCD) and a costume textile artist for screen and stage productions in Europe and North America. CCD is an innovative initiative that Dierker realizes with academic and cultural sector partners to develop solutions for sustainability and costume design.
During his nearly four decades of professional experience and 27 years at Genelec to research, develop and implement accurate monitoring solutions for the most critical applications, Aki has witnessed the introduction of immersive audio formats capable of convincingly enveloping and integrating the listeners to truly become embedded in the audio space.
“My most recent work explores how we can reproduce the acoustics of a room in six degrees of freedom for AR/VR. I look at existing rooms and analyze them to study how we perceive their acoustics as we move around in the space, and I use this knowledge to develop new sound reproduction algorithms.”
Janne is the CEO of Verkatehdas and the acting theatre director of the subsidiary Hämeenlinna Theatre, as well as a specialist in the development of performance and event facilities. A dissertation on the creating functional performance spaces is currently underway at Aalto University’s Department of Architecture.
Enara is the Founder of digital fashion platform ARMOAR, host of the Digital Fashion & Art Club, and VP of Metaverse at Hype Partners. She was recently voted as one of Top 30 Voices in the Metaverse by ReadWrite and has spoken at summits globally about digital fashion. Today she’s building a new generation of Web3 products that will shape the future of how people express themselves online.
Edilia Gänz has worked in cultural management and philanthropy for the last nine years. Since the launch of FEDORA – The European Circle of Philanthropists of Opera and Ballet in 2013, she became the organisation’s director, responsible for its growth and impact. FEDORA is known today as the world’s largest opera and dance competition and a leading European philanthropic organisation. In 2018, it introduced a digital platform to showcase emerging talent, engage new audiences, and encourage philanthropy across Europe with the support of the European Commission.
“Right now, I’m interested in seeing more differences and linguistic minorities on television or in film, how they are taken into account in society, and how people’s awareness can grow through the media or social media. What if we take it for granted, and the employment potential of sign language users would also increase on the side of the vast majority without prejudice. I am inspired that in America, sign language is increasingly valued and sign language users (deaf) are increasingly being included in TV series and movies.”
Joseph Fowler is a director, programmer and strategist working within Arts and Culture with over 20 years of international experience collaborating across disciplines in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Joseph currently holds the position of Head of Arts and Culture at the World Economic Forum in Geneva.
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Urs Dierker is the founder of Circular Costume Design (CCD) and a costume textile artist for screen and stage productions in Europe and North America. CCD is an innovative initiative that Dierker realizes with academic and cultural sector partners to develop solutions for sustainability and costume design.
At Aalto University in Finland, Dierker worked with material scientists to explore new applications of biomaterials for costume. This led to a collaboration with the Finnish National Opera and Ballet and the Opera Leipzig, Germany. In partnership with the Opera Leipzig and the Icelandic Opera, Dierker received the 2022 FEDORA Next Stage grant to develop sustainable approaches to costume design. This multi-year project is part of Dierker’s doctoral research.
A sign language actress
"Right now, I’m interested in seeing more differences and linguistic minorities on television or in film, how they are taken into account in society, and how people’s awareness can grow through the media or social media. What if we take it for granted, and the employment potential of sign language users would also increase on the side of the vast majority without prejudice. I am inspired that in America, sign language is increasingly valued and sign language users (deaf) are increasingly being included in TV series and movies."
Silva Belghiti is a sign language (deaf) actress, entrepreneur and mother. She studied for a bachelor's degree at the Stockholm Theater Academy and a master's degree at the Helsinki Theater Academy.
Photo credit: Heidi K. Robertson
Director of The Theatre Green Book
Paddy Dillon is one of the UK’s leading theatre architects, responsible for the regeneration of the National Theatre, in London, alongside many other projects. He was until recently interim chair of the Theatres Trust, and is chair of the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference.
In 2020 he initiated the Theatre Green Book, a project to help theatre-makers work together towards a sustainable future for theatre. Uniting all the UK’s leading theatre organisations, it brought theatre-makers of all kinds together with sustainability experts Buro Happold to define clear guidance and shared standards for the journey to zero carbon.
The Theatre Green Book is being used by all the UK’s leading theatres and by many others across the world.
Questions I ask and that guide me currently: Where can the new immersive and web3 technologies that we are developing take us? What are the problems we can solve? Which systems can we change, what new economies can we create where it is needed the most, and how can we make sure that we spend LESS and more QUALITY time in this next iteration of the Internet?
Ida has an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies. She has lived in eight countries and speaks five languages. Her experience from creative technologies is extensive: she worked together with Dexter Studios in South Korea to develop the 3D interior screens for SLS Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, and she has worked with 3D musicals and early VR applications of architectural renderings.
In June 2021, Ida joined Journee. Her work in the metaverse and web3 field is centred around the question “What’s next?”. She works with the bricks and mortar as well as the newest NFT use cases to have a deep, vertical and horizontal understanding of the current developments. Together with the best partners in the web3 space, she is driving the cloud rendered Journee solution forward to keep developing the most immersive, seamless, and accessible solution, integrated with interoperability of assets and user ownership.
Ida is a frequent keynote speaker, panellist and moderator and has been speaking at events such as the World Economic Forum, Deloitte Innovation Day, Split X Summit, House of Beautiful Business, yWhales podcast, CityAge and many more.
Aki Mäkivirta is the RD Director at Genelec Oy, a manufacturer of active loudspeaker systems based in Iisalmi, Finland. Genelec designs and produces products especially for professional studio recording, mixing and mastering applications, broadcast, and movie production.
During his nearly four decades of professional experience and 27 years at Genelec to research, develop and implement accurate monitoring solutions for the most critical applications, Aki has witnessed the introduction of immersive audio formats capable of convincingly enveloping and integrating the listeners to truly become embedded in the audio space. Today, Genelec has become the go-to choice worldwide for implementing the highest quality audio reproduction solutions to create and present 3D and immersive audio.
Director of FEDORA
Edilia Gänz has worked in cultural management and philanthropy for the last nine years.
Since the launch of FEDORA - The European Circle of Philanthropists of Opera and Ballet
in 2013, she became the organisation’s director, responsible for its growth and impact.
FEDORA is known today as the world’s largest opera and dance competition and a leading
European philanthropic organisation. In 2018, it introduced a digital platform to showcase
emerging talent, engage new audiences, and encourage philanthropy across Europe with
the support of the European Commission.
While still a student at the University of Mannheim, Germany, Ms Gänz entered the world of cultural management, marketing, and philanthropy through her work at the Mannheim
Philharmonic Orchestra. After her graduate studies at ESCP Europe Business School in
London and Paris, she worked at the AROP - The Association for Friends & Donors of the
Paris National Opera, where she was selected to manage the launch of FEDORA.
Forbes Magazine nominated her in 2019, as one of the most promising European cultural
managers on the "Forbes 30 under 30 Europe in Arts & Culture” list. Mariya Gabriel,
European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, featured
her in the #EUwomen4future campaign.
"There are always untold stories behind the dominant narratives. Whereas music in cinema has the ability to convey the true emotions of the characters despite what is seen on the screen, in augmented reality experiences, sounds and voices could play a similar role in disclosing an invisible layer of alternative truth hidden from the common eye. I'm super excited about the possibilities of audio augmented reality as an art form for telling stories connected to real environments and real people. I'm also excited when getting to experiment with new ways to use technology for narrative and artistic purposes."
Matias Harju is a sound designer and musician specialising in immersive and interactive sonic storytelling. He is currently developing audio augmented reality (AAR) with six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) as a narrative and interactive medium at WHS in Helsinki. He is also active in making adaptive music, immersive sound design, and bug-free code for other projects including XR, video games, installations, and live performances.
Matias is a Master of Music from Sibelius Academy with a background in multiple musical genres, music education, and audio technology. He also holds a master's degree from the Sound in New Media programme at Aalto University.
Sound artist and sound designer
Norvio is a multidisciplinary sound designer and sound artist. His background is in electronic music and works nowadays between different art forms and genres. He is interested in rhythmical and arrhythmical masses of sound, using acoustic and sampled sounds as a material of his work.
Norvio has made sound and music for contemporary dance and circus, installations, documentary films and different artists. He performs live electronics as a member of Pohjonen Alanko trio and in a duo with Hildá Länsman as well as solo at times. He has worked with a vast array of artists like Kimmo Pohjonen, Tapani Rinne, RinneRadio, defunensemble, Pekka Kuusisto, Thom Monckton, Terike Haapoja, Sari Palmgren, Johanna Nuutinen and Tero Saarinen Co. Norvio created the sound design for Opera Beyond's 2020 project Laila. He has been credited for his work with Säde and Teosto prizes.
Photo credit: David Thibel
Janne is the CEO of Verkatehdas and the acting theatre director of the subsidiary Hämeenlinna Theatre, as well as a specialist in the development of performance and event facilities. A dissertation on the creating functional performance spaces is currently underway at Aalto University's Department of Architecture.
Long experience as both a designer and a user of performance spaces provides a perspective on the needs, necessities and values of both performing and communicating. Years and miles have taught that the content always comes first, and the form must always follow, not lead. Art is not decoration, and communication is not just information. Especially the public space should always properly serve not only all its users, but also the community around it, to justify the use of common resources.
Janne Auvinen has worked in the event industry since 1984, and graduated from the Theatre Academy's Department of Lighting and Sound Design in 1995 with a master's degree in theatre art.
Photo credit: Tapio Aulu
Vesala is one of Finland's most popular musical artists today. She is a multi-platinum selling, diverse musician and dramaturge who is recognized for her skills in creating tangible stories and universes through words, notes and dynamic performance.
In addition to her own repertoire, the singer-songwriter has composed songs and written lyrics for countless other musical artists. By the same token, she has expanded her award-winning creative career as a playwright, dramaturge, film and voice actor as well as documentary director. She has acted major roles in award-winning films such as Little Wing (Nordic Council Film Prize) and Unknown Soldier.
Vesala has studied music pedagogy at Sibelius Academy, dramaturgy at the Theatre Academy of Finland and playwriting at University of California.
Paula Vesala continues her solo career under the artist name “Vesala” and keeps on bringing her talent into new striking cross-disciplinary art projects. She was the dramaturge of the interactive installation Laila, Opera Beyond's first production using immersive technology.
Joseph Fowler is a director, programmer and strategist working within Arts and Culture with over 20 years of international experience collaborating across disciplines in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
Joseph currently holds the position of Head of Arts and Culture at the World Economic Forum in Geneva. Previous positions include Cultural Advisor to the Ministry of Culture of Saudi Arabia, Director of Opera, Arts & Culture for Expo 2020, Director of Programming and Events at Dubai Opera, General Manager of Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre, Resident Director at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, Associate Director at Regents Park Open Air Theatre and Director of Movement at La Comédie-Française.
Joseph has received several awards as recognition of his contribution to the arts including The Sir Kenneth Macmillan Award, The Joan Lawson Award and the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patron of the Arts Award. Joseph is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Music Academy of the Anargyrios and Korgialenios School of Spetses (MAAKSS).
"I'm really interested in how the digital programming the culture sector developed out of necessity during the pandemic can continue to be relevant and impactful in enabling access and increasing diversity of audiences, especially among people who can't or don't attend in person."
Ankur is an artist & culture-sector changemaker. He's the outgoing Director of Digital Stage & Studio at leading international dance organisation Sadler’s Wells, where he also served as Director of Content & Communications. At Sadler's Wells, Ankur led on commissioning, producing and distribution for Digital Stage, which in the pandemic shared 50+ titles and reached 5M global views.
Ankur also co-hosts the podcast Arts Work, aimed at helping underrepresented groups navigate careers into the arts.
Prior to Sadler’s Wells, he was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he advised Fortune 500 companies in the media and consumer industries on strategy and organisational design. Ankur is an actor, dancer and writer with a career that has spanned A Midsummer Night's Dream for Shakespeare’s Globe and Armando Ianucci's Avenue 5 for HBO.
Ankur is an alumnus of NYU Stern School of Business, London Contemporary Dance School, and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was the recipient of the Fulbright and Marshall Scholarships and proudly serves on the Board of Trustees of Paines Plough.
“My most recent work explores how we can reproduce the acoustics of a room in six degrees of freedom for AR/VR. I look at existing rooms and analyze them to study how we perceive their acoustics as we move around in the space, and I use this knowledge to develop new sound reproduction algorithms.
Depending on the desired aesthetics, we may want to reproduce accurately an existing space or, create a completely imaginary world. Therefore, I’m especially interested in creating technology that can bridge the science of acoustics and psychoacoustics with more creative applications, and ultimately, I want to empower immersive sound creators.”
Benoit Alary, Ph.D., is a Canadian researcher at the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) in Paris, France. Established in 1977, IRCAM is one of the world’s largest public research centers dedicated to musical expression and scientific research.
Benoit has over fifteen years of experience in immersive audio, shared between industry and academia, which includes a Ph.D. from Aalto University (Finland). As a permanent member of IRCAM’s Acoustic and Cognitive Spaces team, his research centers around the reproduction, the analysis/synthesis, and the perception of sound spaces. His current projects involve 6DoF sound reproduction, machine learning, and virtual acoustics.
Hannu Järvensivu's responsibilities at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet include being the assistant head of the set workshop, management of the technical engineering team, and project management for the XR Stage project. He will be presenting the XR Stage Design Platform tool and project at the conference.
The XR Stage project concentrates on solving quality and scheduling problems in the design and planning work of performing arts productions by introducing a new online, remote workspace. The scope of the project is to create a fully functional digital twin of the real stage, integrate it to lighting and technical stage operation systems, and create a toolset for sketching and trialing the set and scenes, pre-program lights and have a dry-run for the changes.
This enables the artistic teams to visualize the production already in the early phase, to reduce risk of misinterpretation. It also saves a lot of energy and time from travelling. The digital outcome of the work can be adopted to the technical engineering, which enables a smooth start for the engineering and manufacturing.
In addition to streamlining the production process, XR Stage is a key technical enabler for exploiting the opportunities that virtualization can bring to live performances. Capturing motions of the performers and presenting that data to the audience either as an enhancement to the live show, or as an independent entity through any channel (such as a metaverse experience) open up vast new territories for creating totally new experiences to spectators.
Hannu Järvensivu has long-term experience in the software projects and SW asset management from the telco-IT industry. Before joining the FNOB he had a 18 year-long career in different positions at the Nokia corporation.
COO and Partner at ZOAN
ZOAN is an international Metaverse studio with its headquarters in Helsinki. As the Chief Operating Officer of ZOAN, Laura Olin has been part of producing multiple virtual pioneer works for both companies and in the branch of arts and culture. At the moment a lot of her time is spent helping organizations into the Metaverse world. Laura's background is in marketing and journalism.
Jakob Kudsk Steensen
"I have been working with opera singers, pop musicians, video game designers and iconic architecture like Halle am Berghain in Berlin, the Venice Biennale, Serpentine Galleries and ARoS Art Museum, to explore a new realm for art. I am excited about new formats where spatial exhibitions from the art world meet the immersive and narrative qualities of theater, with the song and emotional qualities of opera. Spatial sound can now be alive, and connected to performers in real time, and adjusted to any architecture. Worldbuilding can be physical in spaces, connected to virtual worlds, and accessible online as well as onsite.
These multi-dimensionalities allow us to bridge between past existing fields without losing what makes each one unique. Spatial, alive, musical, singing and narrative can interconnect in exciting new ways. Thematically I have explored past, and lost, words, concepts and songs, used to describe landscapes around us. I am excited to be reviving these, mixing them with worlds that are both organic, digital and physical."
Jakob Kudsk Steensen is an artist working with environmental storytelling through 3d animation, sound and immersive installations. He creates poetic interpretations about overlooked natural phenomena through collaborations with field biologists, composers and writers. Projects are based on extensive fieldwork. Key collaborators include Musician ARCA, Composer and Musical Director for the Philip Glass Ensemble Michael Riesman, Ornithologist and author Dr. Douglas H. Pratt, Architect Sir David Adjaye OBE RA, BTS, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Natural History Museum Berlin, among others.
Jakob has recently exhibited with his major solo exhibition “Berl-Berl” in Berlin at Halle am Berghain, commissioned by LAS, and at Luma Arles with “Liminal Lands” for the “Prelude” exhibition. He was a finalist for the Future Generation Art Prize at the 2019 Venice Biennale. He received the Serpentine Augmented Architecture commission in 2019 to create his work The Deep Listener with Google Arts and Culture. He is the recipient of the best VR graphics for RE-ANIMATED (2019) at the Cinequest Festival for Technology and Cinema, the Prix du Jury (2019) at Les Rencontres Arles, the Webby Award – People’s Choice VR (2018), and the Games for Change Award-Most Innovative (2018), among others.
Enara is the Founder of digital fashion platform ARMOAR, host of the Digital Fashion & Art Club, and VP of Metaverse at Hype Partners. She was recently voted as one of Top 30 Voices in the Metaverse by ReadWrite and has spoken at summits globally about digital fashion. Today she's building a new generation of Web3 products that will shape the future of how people express themselves online.
Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera
Lilli Paasikivi has worked as Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera since 2013.
In her work, Paasikivi has set out to reshape the structures of opera and to find ways to combine technology with opera. In 2019, Paasikivi launched Opera Beyond – a project which aims to apply new technological possibilities and tools in opera and ballet. The Opera Beyond ecosystem includes productions such as CircOpera 2.0, to be premiered in November, interactive installations Laila and Common Domain and collaboration and co-learning projects such as the Jam Session Webinars. The aim is to learn more, create, connect and inspire – to move beyond.
Lilli Paasikivi was engaged as a soloist at the Finnish National Opera from 1998 to 2013. Alongside, she has made a significant international career, performing on the leading opera and concert platforms of the world. Her repertoire varies from Mozart to Wagner side by side with symphonic and contemporary music. Paasikivi was awarded the Pro Finlandia Medal in recognition of her artistic merits in 2008 and the Commander’s Badge by the Order of The Lion of Finland in 2017.
Co-founder, 00100 Ensemble
"In recent work with 00100ENSEMBLE we have been playing around with the balance of personal and shared experiences. In all of the projects one of the aims is to create a sense of belonging to a momentary community.
By creating a safe and curated multi sensory world we give the audience a choice to wander freely and lose themselves following their own intuition. In a performance where the options can feel limitless, they get the chance to surprise themselves and challenge their own behavioural habits.
At this moment I’m really excited about new unconventional performance spaces, that do not hold a history of any certain type of audience culture. Through this I believe we can create more accessible immersive experiences and create new narratives that reflect the diversity of the world we are living in. Queer bodies, cultures and spaces as an inspiration/celebration."
Onni Hämäläinen is a professional circus artist and director. He is one of the four co-founders of 00100ENSEMBLE, a contemporary multi-artistic collective creating immersive performances. The ensemble was brought together by a desire to create immersive works we have not experienced and worlds that escape defining and rely on the active processes of the viewers mind.
Since graduating from Dans och Cirkushögskolan Onni has been based in Finland and has worked on projects in Germany, Sweden and Spain. In his projects he works as a concept designer, director and also as a performer.
"Whether it's the thrill of a rollercoaster ride, an intense look in your eyes inside a huge labyrinth or a moment in a virtual paradise that makes you question the life around you – it all comes down to something that for me is the juicy essence of immersive experiences: a personal, though somehow shared adventure. An adventure packed in a fleeting moment, that has the potential to be transformative."
Inna Huttunen is an experience designer and producer specialized in immersive and impactful experiences. She is the managing director of Recover Laboratory, a pioneering Finnish immersive art company drawing from contemporary circus, visual arts and performance art. RecLab creates surreal art experiences focused on human contact, honesty and freedom.
In addition to co-leading Recover Laboratory, Huttunen has worked extensively with immersive experiences - from designing and producing some of Finland's first escape games and large-scale labyrinths under the ground to awarded marketing stunts and custom-made event concepts. Currently Huttunen is also producing a pioneering virtual reality theatre performance, Love Simulation EVE, that premieres in 2023.
Artistic director and artistic researcher, The Center for Everything
"At the moment I’m interested in how to apply negotiation practices from BDSM and sex-positive scene for immersive and game performances. By this I mean the mechanisms of negotiation themselves regardless of whether the subject matter is related to sexuality. I’m inspired by how queer communities create safer spaces in order to facilitate action which society at large might define as ‘risky’ in a way that validates the boundaries of everyone involved. If translated to art, this for me gives a glimpse of art which can take more meaningful risks while also taking better care of everyone involved."
Samee Haapa is a producer, director, performer, anthropologist and a dj. They are a doctoral resarcher in artistic research at the Performing Arts Research Centre Tutke at Theatre Academy in the University of the Arts Helsinki. In addition to having degrees in both acting and dance they also hold a BA in Cultural Anthropology. In their doctoral research Haapa focuses on developing a playtesting method for training performers in immersive and game performances.
They are also the artistic director of a performing arts company The Center for Everything.
"My most recent projects combine the use of virtual tools, virtual entities and Artificial Intelligence, to reflect on some unique characteristics of our human experience. Human messiness is a passion - I've worked with different media in the past, from films, to animation, mostly focusing on human-centered experiences and reality (non-fiction, documentary approaches, etc). As I've expanded with immersive and interactive tools (VR, AR, or AI), I'm excited about the ways we can explore more of the strange balance we create between our human lives - messy, quirky, the drama, the ethereal, magical imagination - and the fact that we are inevitably tethered to physical bodies in physical spaces.
With recent projects using AI, for instance: Chomsky vs Chomsky (Sundance 2021 and launch 2022) or Future Rites (Creative XR, London Philharmonia, IDFA DocLab Forum, SXSW 2022), I want to explore how algorithmic tools, physical body movement and human creativity can meet at a crucial junction, to create compelling virtual worlds and characters that invite interaction, discovery, dance and play. After all, we're stuck between technology and hand-crafted storytelling: and I always believe it is the human imagination that remains at the core of any type of immersion."
Sandra Rodriguez, Ph.D., is a creative director and producer (interactive, VR, XR, AI) and a sociologist of new media technology. Her work as creative director and producer have garnered multiple awards, including a Peabody (2016), best immersive experience (IDFA DocLab 2016; Leipzig DokNeuland 2018, Numix 2018), best storytelling (UNVR and World Economic Forum tour 2018), and the first Golden Nica award given to a VR project at Ars Electronica (2019). Her recent work spans from immersive dance performance, multi-user XR theater and large scale installation, exploring the sparks that fly at the crossroads of AI, VR, and human creativity. Rodriguez is also a lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2017, where she leads the course HackingXR, MIT’s first course on immersive media production.
"Recent project exploration has included a deep dive into the gamification of Romeo & Juliet, namely how strangers fall in love, what makes love irresistible, and how to utilize play to inspire self-reflection around intimacy. I’m currently also experimenting with playable museum tours that invite participants to game their way through a museum as a way to personalize and embody the content of the exhibits. To cap off the day, I’ve been winding down at night by indulging my inner literature & philosophy nerd and reading physical books, often by candlelight, for the sheer joy of the aesthetic."
Jessica is an interactive experience designer dedicated to crafting surprising games for curious people, immersive theater artist, and professor. Jessica has worked on Broadway, at sidewalk festivals, and in the digital abyss. Her work has been presented at The Franklin Institute, BostonFIG, HERE Arts Center, and FringeNYC.
Jessica is a Professor of Game Design at Drexel University, a climate change game designer with The National Parks Service, a 2021 Arctic Circle Artist-in-Residence, a member of the Rachael Carson Center Climate Change Existential Toolkit cohort, and she recently gave a TEDx talk about embracing uncertainty through play. She is the founder of IKantKoan Games: www.ikantkoan.com, a studio focused on playfully exploring complex subject matter. She holds an MFA in Devised, Ensemble Performance from The Pig Iron School of Advanced Performance Training/UARTS and a BA in Political Communications from the George Washington University.
TO BE ANNOUNCED
We will be announcing more speakers and program shortly. Stay tuned!
CEO Frontier Collective, Co-Founder at Shape, President at Vancouver VR/AR Association at Frontier Collective
"I'm really interested in democratizing the VR/AR/Metaverse technology to make it accessible to everyone, I'm passionate about the people and the community that make up the future of these transformative industries. The intersection of arts and innovation has never been more prevalent than now, I personally get inspired by it."
Dan is a pioneer in the technology space and a leader within the VR/AR/Metaverse industry. He knows Vancouver and BC have the opportunity to become global leaders in innovation. He believes it takes collaboration, inclusivity, and diversity to create a sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future. He's committed to driving adoption and innovation in the Metaverse to enhance human experiences.
Dan’s technological insights have elevated him to ceo and co-founder of Frontier Collective, which is bringing a new innovation to Vancouver through community and also president of the Vancouver VR/AR Association, an organization that catapulted Vancouver to become the industry’s second largest global hub. His contributions have greatly influenced the virtual and augmented reality presence across the BC region, as well as throughout Canada. Dan also co-founded Shape Immersive, a company specializing in the building of VR/AR + 3D development, which has collaborated with notable brands in many verticals including Redbull, Olympics, Disney, Star Atlas and RTFKT studios (NFTs).
Nominated as 2021's LinkedIn Top Voices: Technology & Innovation, BIV’s Top Forty Under 40, and named as a BC500 leader, Dan has written for and offered tech insights to publications including TechCrunch, Betakit, VR Scout, DailyHive, and BC Business. His dedication to the industry has been spotlighted in media outlets such as Forbes, CTV, CBC, and Business in Vancouver. Dan has curated events and spoken at venues around the globe including Web Summit (2021), SXSW, Annecy Festival France, TED Conference, AWE, AWE EU, Extraordinary Future Conference, and VR Days. Dan also advises and mentors many fast-growing startups and entrepreneurs with an emphasis on diversity.
London, UK /
Violet Disruption makes music for ecstasy, rapture, and euphoria. They want to empower the audience. FEEL is a no-judgment space for the audience to escape within - a place to release from the day-to-day, relinquish control, and feel.
Their project FEEL: an immersive rave opera.
Hosted by avatar DJ Violet Disruption, this experience takes audiences through an explosive, liberating, and all-encompassing experience revealing a new future. Violet Disruption is inspired by the collective experiences of ecstasy & rapture shared by audiences of all kinds (opera, rave, circus). She is inspired to open up new spaces for endorphin release with her immersive rave Opera. Violet is the connecting point of worlds - raving & opera, movement & music, art & tech.
Violet Disruption is an avatar ´DJ who encourages audiences to find freedom through an operatic rave. She is on the planet to unlock hope through the act of raving, and her voice & music directly address the audience and invite them to move and discover their bodies with her.
Since November 2020, Steph has been creating music for Violet Disruption, and in February of 2021, David & Steph met on the Expanding the Canvas project. Both artists were interested in getting people to move and use their bodies to express themselves, create work to encourage people to let go, get their bodies moving, and feel free.
Get to know the Team
The team was brought together across 2021 as Violet Disruption had an early R&D period with the Royal Opera House, National Ballet of Canada, to develop a 5-minute pilot experience. The team is composed of artists, producers, and digital technologists. Amanda Mayo is the music producer and sound designer, David Andrew Reid is a Jamaican-Canadian theatre/tv artist and the choreographer of the Violet Disruption project, Gideon Berger & Block9 are the Art directors & experience creators, Stephanie Singer is the Composer & creative director, and Sirt team are the Digital technologists in Canada.
Cacao Cinema aims to create interactive experiences that merge filmmaking, video games, architecture, technology, and art. They are focused on creating interactive and immersive experiences that combine different languages and technologies.
Their project: Gaming CircOpera - Let's play together. .
Their project is evolving between two main ideas: to bring the videogame language in Circopera and to make the audience interact with the artists so that they can be a part of the play, keeping the protagonism of the performers in the scene.
They want to give the audience the possibility of creating their own avatars to share the stage as virtual performers in harmony with the actual artists. “To be part of the play in a way never seen before, not just as a spectator, but as a performer, while they immerse themselves in an interactive, magical and dreamlike world.”
Get to know the Team
The team is composed of three professionals. Nell Córdova is a Filmmaker, Producer and the Creative Director at Cacao Cinema, Nelson Zambrano is an Architect, CG Artist and the CEO at Cacao Cinema, Conrado Pittari is a Visual Artist, Video Game Developer and the Technology director at Cacao Cinema.
ACADEMIC ART HACKERS
Helsinki, Finland & Zürich, Switzerland
“We make art using tech, and then we merge it with tech”. Academic Art Hackers’ creations are inspired by tech enabling novel artistic experiences so that they can achieve something unimaginable.
With this project, they want to arouse feelings of joy and surprise in the audience by making novel combinations of familiar elements of circus and opera, such as animals and visual and sound effects, combined with interaction. Their enthusiasm for artistic work completes their competence and the used technology (e.g., mocap, 3D audio) to implement the project. They are using technology for drones, which can be applied in a new context.
Get to know the team
The team is composed of 16 people: engineers, artists, designers, and other creators. Eight people are from Helsinki, Finland, and eight are from Zürich, Switzerland. The members of the team are Petri Juntunen, Marcus Korhonen, Matti Niinimäki, Sofia Pantouvaki, Krisjanis Rijnieks, Antti Ruotoistenmäki, Mikko Sams, Sebastian J. Schlecht, Martin Fröhlich, Joël Gähwiler, Christian Iseli, Roman Jurt, Max Kriegleder, Eric Larrieux, Oliver Sahli and Stella Speziali.
Valencia, Spain /
The Vitamin team is composed of artists and electrical engineers, which allows them to merge their knowledge to explore new fields and mix them to create unique artistic experiences.
Their project: MATT3R
The core of their innovation is in working in the intersection of physics, technology, and arts. MATT3R, The origin of creation, is an abstract concept that jumps between science and consciousness to focus on the whole as an ensemble and an equal. It is based on real-time visuals, reacting as independent algorithms that rule the entire experience. This means that every performance will create a whole different and unique installation. The artists on stage will be the ones transmitting the data with their movements and choreographies.
Physics, nature, digital spaces, lights, and social and cultural issues are usually the sources of their creations. They find simulations of physical phenomena inspiring, in which simple rules give rise to complexity and realistic emotions.
Get to know the team
The team has four membres, which are each artists of their domain. At Vitamin studio Laura Martínez has the role of a Production Director and an Account Manager, Ana Piquer is the Art Director and a 3D Designer, Javier Mujica is the Creative Director and one of the Co-founders of Vitamin Studio, and Pablo Álvarez is an electronic engineer, Co-founder, CEO, and Technical Director of Vitamin Studio.
Partner, Chief Operating Officer at Zoan
Laura Olin is partner and Chief Operating Officer of Zoan where she has worked since 2016. Her background is in b2b marketing & business development and journalism.
Zoan is an award-winning XR studio based in Helsinki. The global team of professionals creates real-time 3D to help companies improve their processes. Zoan is one the creators of the new XR production simulation tool, of which the prototype will be presented at the conference.
Sami Henrik Haapala
Artistic director, The Center for Everything
Sami Henrik Haapala is a producer, director, performer, anthropologist and dj. They are also a doctoral candidate in artistic research at the Performing Arts Research Centre Tutke in the University of the Arts Helsinki.
In addition to having degrees in both acting and dance they also hold a BA in Cultural Anthropology. In their doctoral research Haapala focuses on how the performer, participant and environment co-create action in immersive and game performances.
Haapala’s own works cut through theatre, dance and live art. They have created immersive, interactive and collaborative performances with a vast range of makers and institutions both from Finland and internationally. Their latest collaboration is a founding of a new political party led by an artificial intelligence – The AI Party – which is an immersive performance co-produced with independent theatre and live art companies from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Australia.
They are also the artistic director of a performing arts company The Center for Everything.
Photo: Marko Mäkinen
Mixed Reality Lead at Varjo
Marcus is a VR pioneer.
He works as Mixed Reality Lead at Varjo, and is the Co-founder of the VR company SceneThere. Marcus lead the work for Varjo’s XR-1 – the world’s first photorealistic Mixed Reality headset. He is also teaching VR/AR at Singularity University.
In 2016 he co-founded the VR company SceneThere based on the idea that anyone can create virtual worlds using a 360 camera. By using SceneThere's tools he has created interactive VR-documentaries such as "North Korea VR" which was featured in Wired, BBC, Mashable and others, and "Voices of the Favela" which was premiered at UN’s conference “Habitat 3”.
Before getting into VR Marcus worked 7 years with Nokia & Microsoft where he was leading the work for mobile cameras.
He is passionate about the way technology can help us telling a story and make us connect with each other. Ever since 1998 - when he invented a personal blogging system before the word blog existed - he has been inventing new ways to share stories, and connect with people.
Director of Digital Development at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)
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. During her time at RSC she has continued exploration into the future of theater innovation in collaborations with tech giants like Google, Magic Leap and Intel.
Sarah is an advocate for a people-centric approach whilst pushing the boundaries of theater. For example in the Tempest with Intel the experience didn’t rely on pre-recorded footage, but instead turned live performance into a digital presentation by using real-time motion and facial capture for the very first time in history.
At her work Sarah is continuously searching for new ways to amplify live experiences digitally. She and the RSC publish their explorations and lessons learned to encourage other cultural institutions to follow their footsteps.
Anna Vavilova and Joonas Laurikainen are team leads and coaches from Talk The Talk program, they will be your helping hand in mastering the project pitch on Thursday.
How often do you hear that public speaking is a natural gift and you can’t be good at it? Talk The Talk believes that public speaking is a skill and anyone can master it with the certain amount of practice, determination and guidance.
Talk The Talk is a movement with the series of open workshops and annual speaker-accelerator program in Finland. Last year we hosted the final of the program in Musiikkitalo, the biggest music hall of Helsinki. We discuss, design and practice the best techniques in friendly environment -- so that anyone can feel a bit uncomfortable but in a comfortable way
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.
She has developed interactive performance systems and virtual scenography for dance, theatre and opera over several years, creating her own works, and collaborating with companies such as Victorian Opera and Australian Dance Theatre.
Kim Vincs is a leading researcher in the creative arts, with six Australian Research Council grants, 40+ industry partnerships, and 20+ arts/science collaborations across motion capture, game development, robotics, haptics, app design, 3D stereoscopy, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, cognitive psychology, biomechanics, mathematics, architecture and exercise science. Vincs’s industry partnerships include national and International companies such as Autodesk, Motion Analysis, Act3animation, Iloura, Alt.vfx, Arts Access Victoria, Victorian Opera and Australian Dance Theatre.
She has commercial motion capture credits including the Cannes Silver Lion winning Nocturnal Migration. Kim integrates scientific, technological and artistic methodologies to deliver innovative research to digital and performing arts industries, companies and communities. Her work spans creative technology for performance, digital scenography, VR, AR and robotics applications for motion capture technology.
In 2017, she led an interdisciplinary and cross-institutional team with an ARC LIEF grant, creating an Embodied Movement Network. Vincs is an award-winning educator with expertise in collaborative, interdisciplinary curriculum design linking art, technology, science and humanities. She has two Carrick National Teaching Awards; a National Teaching Award, Arts and Humanities and Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning. Vincs joined the Department of Film and Animation at Swinburne in 2017 where she is a Research Director. Before joining Swinburne, she founded Deakin University’s Deakin Motion.Lab.
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 video-installation capturing the joy of the crew when anchoring to London after weeks at sea. The you are welcomed to join the crew's party, but you are also required to dance in order to the party going in the 1930!
The installations uses motion tracking cameras for follow user's movements. Installation is made for Åland Maritime Museum by Radical Rabbit and Rndk Productions. Experience also running daily in Pommern, Åland. Hope you get Taisto dance too!
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.
Peter is also currently adjunct professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Tongji University, one of the leading universities in China. In 2011 Time Magazine named Peter one of the 100 most influential people on the planet.
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.
For Cambridge University (UK) he has developed virtual museums for the dissemination of archaeological research results. This has also resulted in interactive and narrative 3D formats, such as films and virtual reality applications, through which the viewer can experience a virtual 360° experience.
In 2017, in collaboration with Schauspiel Dortmund and directed by Kay Voges, the VR play “Memories of Borderline” was created, which was shown both at the Theatertreffen Berliner Festspiele and at Ars Electronica.
His work focuses on 3D reality reconstruction in the field of architecture as well as the digitization of complete stage sets of classical theater. New is the full-body recording of performers from the field of dance and the performing arts in the form of VR holography for VR and AR applications.
Marcel is the winner of the 3D Guild Award of the International 3D Summit in Liege, Belgium and in 2017 he won the Halo Award in Gold of the VR Days in the category Best 3D VR Animation Film with “Pitoti Prometheus”.
Marcel will be one of the panelists in the Stage Arts in Virtual Reality panel on Friday at 16:00.
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. You share space with surreal characters among which you may move freely and observe the performance from different perspectives. This makes the piece a unique experience for everyone.
Three-part Nuanc3d combines circus art and virtual reality in a way which remains resonating in your body and mind. The work is a collaboration between software company Delicode and contemporary circus group Agit-Cirk.
The Ordinary Circus Girl VR
The Ordinary Circus Girl by Corinne Linder and Novelab is a sensorial experience using virtual reality headsets and live performance.
Creating a physical experience on the fine line between virtual and real.
Based on a real event that Corinne underwent, the narrative blends real life with fiction. Inspired by a fall that forced her to rethink her career as a circus artist, the viewer is invited to follow a narrator Anna from the backstage to the stage itself.
It is a journey where you as viewers become part of a troupe of aerial artists. Inviting the audience to discover both physical and emotional parts of the world of contemporary circus. A place where everything seems possible, and fore mostly a practice where the fear of falling is always present.
Hold On - Nomadic VR
HA visual experience in virtual reality about contemporary circus.
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. A opportunity to discover the different sensations usually experienced by artists on stage: the notion of risk, joy, adrenaline or danger.
This experience is based on the fragility of the moment. A moment when the fall seems inevitable, and which, when it occurs, suspends forever the grace of the moment.
Ethan Edwards is a Researcher with the Experiments in Art and Technology Program at Nokia Bell Labs. He coordinates large-scale collaborations between artists and engineers and works to find new forms of human communication.
Technological art thrives when many individual specialities and systems work together. Immersive installations require sound, visual, cameras, IOT sensors, and any number of interactive systems to communicate and share data in real time. At the Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology program, Ethan has been part of building many performances and installations which rely on different varieties of networking technology in a number of different presentation contexts.
Ethan Edwards will share best practices for tying novel systems together, present E.A.T.'s work in this field including new Bell Labs inventions, and explore the future of large-scale artworks which rely on our networks.
Rob Morgan is a game writer, digital dramaturge, and co-founder and Creative Director of immersive AR studio Playlines. Rob was Lead Game Writer and Voice Director on the groundbreaking PS3 AR titles 'Wonderbook: Book of Spells' and 'Book of Potions', written in collaboration with J.K. Rowling, and he wrote and voice-directed 'A Fisherman'sTale' from InnerspaceVR.
Rob has worked on numerous VR/AR projects including writing ‘Firebird: The Unfinished' (VR) (premiered Tribeca 2018) and the 2017 HoloLens project 'SlushPolis Story' (Future of Storytelling Prize-winner 2017), has written premium content for the critically-acclaimed 'Fallen London', and was Content Editor for the multi-award-winning '80 Days'.
Rob is a passionate pioneer of immersive narrative. He directed Playlines' interactive installations at London's iconic Roundhouse and #FutureFest 2016, and co-created and directed the location-based immersive AR Grime experience 'CONSEQUENCES' (FoST Prize Finalist 2018) in collaboration with multi-award-winning UK rapper Harry Shotta.
Callie Holderman is a producer forging opportunities for storytellers to use
immersive technology in their work.
She is the Senior Manager of Developer Experience at Magic Leap, bringing mixed-reality content to market for Rovio, Funomena, ILMxLAB, Weta
Workshop, Wayfair and more.
Outside of her role at Magic Leap, Callie serves on the Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality Committee for ACM SIGGRAPH, where she has curated innovative AR/VR/MR content, produced media segments, and provided operational support for over a decade.
She champions sustainable artistic opportunity. As an owner and visionary
of Endgames Improv’s new theater space in San Francisco’s Mission District, she grants artists a permanent residence to collaborate. As an improviser, she performed with PlaySFMOMA. Her productions and performances have been staged in venues in New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Miami.
Callie holds firm that successful interactive technologies serve to deepen human connection and seeks opportunity to collaborate towards that goal.