Paisley Smith and Milo Talwani curated magical experiences at sp[a]ce gallery.
Climate change. Shaving a giant’s leg. Zombies who can love. Bunnies and aliens. Oversized bugs. Becoming a robot overlord’s pet. While these might seem like storylines from a horror movie plot generator, they are actually all experiences that you can enjoy at ROBOT REMIX: Immersive XR Series.
Inhabiting the second floor of Ayzenberg’s sp[a]ce gallery in Pasadena, CA until September 8th, Robot Remix XR brings together the immersive works of artists, activists, and wonderfully unique thinkers. Curated by Paisley Smith and Milo Talwani, the current menu of experiences will leave you laughing, crying, and surprisingly reflective.
Having met while working for the Sundance Institute New Frontier Programs, Paisley and Milo came together with the goal of uniting disparate VR experiences that would capture the imagination of VR initiates and veterans alike.
“I think it’s super important for artists, and potential VR artists (aka all audiences) to see what is possible in the space. Without actually experiencing these projects, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the amazing things that can be created in VR,” Paisley told me.
This idea seems to be echoed in sp[a]ce’s art gallery on the first floor, where robot-themed toys, paintings, and AR art bring a beautiful (and metallic) world to life. Climbing to the second story of the gallery, I was immediately struck by how colorful the space was. A wall of art by Tim Biskup serves as a backdrop for the room. Bending, multicolored tubes hang from the ceiling and draw the paintings’ vivid colors into the rest of the space, creating natural divisions between each VR setup.
The first experience I tried was Gloomy Eyes from Atlas V. Colin Farrell’s gravelly voice narrates this beautifully dark story, which plays out in miniature around the viewer. It was one of the most beautiful VR animations I had ever seen, and made me feel like I had been dropped into a Tim Burton fantasyland.
Without divulging too much about each experience, they all transported me in ways that only truly engaging and cinematic VR can do. “In terms of emotion, Milo and I set out to build a lineup of fun, approachable projects that fell under “robot” or “remix.” To me, I interpreted Robot Remix XR as a direct link to remix culture,” Paisley said of her and Milo’s approach to choosing each piece.
Scale was a consistent theme across each experience as well. Whether it was making the viewer feel like a god looking down at the world around them, or like a flea witnessing the majestic movements of colossal insects, each piece nudged the viewer to examine how their own experience of the world is relative and extremely individual.
The last experience I tried was Unceded Territories, by Paisley Smith and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Drawing upon Lawrence’s Canadian First Nations artwork and Paisley’s filmmaking and VR storytelling prowess, this powerful piece allows you to reveal a magical, beautiful world with gestures from reimagined appendages.
As the experience continues, this fantasy world starts to change. The hypnotic beats of A Tribe Called Red’s music hasten until they reach a fever pitch, and shocking transformations engulf the landscape around you. I won’t spoil the ending, but the piece sends a powerful message about climate change, colonialism, and indigenous civil rights.
This exceptionally well-curated selection of experiences, while already amazing in itself, won’t be the end of the show. The following months will see new content introduced into the lineup, with staggered tickets allowing attendees the time necessary to experience each one without being rushed.
Featured Image Credit: Jennifer Lopez, Ayzenberg