Sundance Report: The Brave ‘New Frontier’ [Gallery]

on Tuesday, Jan. 22nd

Our own crowdfunding columnist Lucas McNelly is on assignment in Park City, Utah for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

I have this button on my lanyard now with a picture of a rock on it. Exciting, right? Except that it kind of is. See, I also have an app on my phone that when I look at the rock, turns the rock into something else, into a 3D experience. These rock images are all over Park City–on postcards and stickers and buttons–but their genesis is at New Frontier, where the artist Yung Jake has created something called a “Augmented Reality 3D Rap Video“. It’s the kind of thing that they specialize in at New Frontier, or as I like to call it, the thing that Noah is really, really upset about missing.

Tomorrow at New Frontier I have a ticket to watch an immersive video about the coral reefs that sounds like a cross between IMAX and those planetariums they would bring to school to show you the stars (or was that just my school?).

Or, you can watch Joanie Lemercier’s “Eyjafjallajokull” a 3D model of the Icelandic volcano eruption projected on a wall. It runs on a 16 loop as stars turn to ash and then back to stars again, the optical illusion convincing enough that every few minutes someone will touch the wall to make sure it’s actually just painted on. It’s kind of hypnotic, actually.

Then, there’s an audiovisual installation called “Cityscape 2095” that uses a combination of paint and light projection to imagine a traditional city skyline of the future. It’s familiar and not, combining our shared history of what a city entails, only not in a shiny progressive way. There’s a decay to it, a sense of generations of urban life being built on top of each other. It assumes our systems have failed, even the ones we only imagine we’ll create. There’s, oddly enough, no recognizable corporate logos and every building is covered with dozens of TV antennas all branching off each other like sickly little trees. It’s a pretty cool effect.

But probably my favorite display is Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Pulse Index“. It’s pretty simple to describe, actually. You stick your index finger in this reader and it takes a photo of it while reading whatever vital signs it can get. It takes your resting heart rate (57 for me) and a cardiograph of your pulse. Then, it puts your finger on the wall with everyone else’s, the light behind it flickering to mimic your pulse. There’s hundreds, maybe thousands of them there already, each one a fingerprint. They turn into a mosaic, covering the entire room, each unique individual blending until they all look the same. It’s very cool.

Tomorrow I go check out the coral reefs.

Capsule Reviews:

Yesterday I saw three of the most-talked about movies at the dance. David Lowery’s AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS stars Casey Affleck as an outlaw on the run in Texas, trying to get back to his wife, played by Rooney Mara. Lowery pushes the imagery, throwing lots of light around then taking it all away. Everything about it shows far more maturity and confidence than any filmmaker should have with their second feature. I’m rooting for it to win the Grand Jury Prize….We’re going to talk a lot more about FRUITVALE this week (and beyond, I assume) so I won’t burn my thoughts off here. Let’s just say I’m in the minority. Oh, and the comparisons to BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD are idiotic and rather insulting….And then there was Richard Linklater’s BEFORE MIDNIGHT, the highly anticipated continuation of the Before Sunrise/Sunset series. I’d heard a rumor before the festival that it was good and the word immediately after the premiere was glowing. They did not undersell it. The film does everything you’d want and more. It’s the deepest of the series, the most complicated, the messiest. It’s really amazing. People were shedding tears before Julie Delpy even appeared in the movie.

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