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LFF Expanded: A Critical Gaze into Technology’s Imprint on Society
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LFF Expanded: A Critical Gaze into Technology’s Imprint on Society

Consensus Gentium at BFI Film Festival

The 67th BFI London Film Festival, which kicks off on the 4th of October, has unveiled its LFF Expanded program, dedicated to Immersive Art and Extended Realities. It includes 14 projects from around the world.

Aiming to celebrate the diverse facets of moving images, the Festival displays the works at various venues throughout London, including Bargehouse at OXO Tower Wharf, Gallery@Oxo, Outernet, and the Science Gallery London.

The LFF Expanded initiative invites audiences to delve deep into new storytelling methods on screen. It will highlight works from acclaimed British and international artists and filmmakers like the Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat, interactive filmmaker Karen Palmer, musician Darren Emerson, and Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard. 

Shirin Neshat’s “The Fury” at Bargehouse

The festival presents Neshat’s work “The Fury” at exhibition space Bargehouse. The artwork consists of a two-part video and VR exploration addressing sexual assault’s enduring effects filmed in Iran before the murder of Mahsa Amini and the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement. Yet, both the protests led by women in the Middle East and the “Fury” highlight the struggle for women’s bodily rights. 

The first 16-minute video captures a victim post-assault. Although she has physically distanced herself, her mind remains trapped in that traumatic moment, haunted by the uniformed perpetrators who hurt her. Through dance, viewers discern her trauma and her struggle to relate to her new environment. 

Through the help of movement, Neshat also portrays the empathy and understanding the victim receives from those around her. They might not grasp the depth of her pain, but they sense her sorrow. In the second segment, viewers immerse themselves in the aftermath of the assault using Virtual Reality. Neshat aims to engage the audience in her installations deeply. She designs the two-video setup to prompt viewers to reflect and connect with the narrative rather than merely observe it.

Bjarne Melgaard’s “My Trip 2023”

Among the highlighted ones is also Bjarne Melgaard’s “My Trip 2023,” a fully immersive multi-screen installation. It questions how we choose to live – exploring the information overload we encounter daily through a psychedelic lens. Encouraged to contemplate imagination, inner worlds, and the question of illusion and reality, viewers can venture into the visual universe of Bjarne Melgaard at Outernet every Monday evening from 16 October to 27 November. 

Another immersive project, “The Imaginary Friend,” will debut at Bargehouse. It uses advanced holographic filmmaking techniques to take the audience on a gripping journey through the mind of 8-year-old Daniel, becoming his imaginary friend and helping him overcome bullying and grief.

Consensus Gentium by Karen Palmer at Bargehouse

Technological advancements and a critical look at AI’s potential impact on society are central themes for the 2023 programme. Karen Palmer’s award-winning interactive film “Consensus Gentium” uses advanced facial detection and AI to delve into potential outcomes of unchecked surveillance. 

It’s an interactive mobile film set in a future dominated by surveillance and biased AI. As viewers watch, the film responds to their eye movements, branching the narrative based on their gaze. The film delves into the potential consequences of unchecked AI surveillance, where participants, through a government surveillance app, aim to visit their ill Nana. The device’s front-facing camera measures their compliance or dissent by monitoring their eye gaze while characters reveal the outcomes of their choices.

The film will screen from Friday 6 to Sunday 22 October, 11:00 to 21:00, at Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf.

Elsewhere in India, at the Science Gallery London

The project “Elsewhere in India,” hosted by Science Gallery London, combines gaming and music to take viewers on a journey to India in the year 2079. The project addresses the theme of AI’s impact on global cultures, featuring digital avatars of the artists Murthovic and Thiruda. This musical odyssey showcases varied genres, from bass to techno, all interpreted with a South Indian touch.

In London, attendees can also experience the city uniquely via two augmented reality walks: “Ghosts of Solid Air” and “Fleeting Figures.” The former offers a historical journey through Trafalgar Square, while the latter connects two LFF venues with digital public art. 

Tickets are available online starting 12 September. BFI Members can book early on 6 September. For the entire program visit the BFI Film Festival’s website.

This news has been created in collaboration with Open AI’s GPT-4.

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