Shaping the new art form – virtual reality in 2017


Michel Reilhac has a long and distinguished career in all forms of art and media. I met him the first time at one of the Pixel Labs, while he was leading the film strategy for ARTE France. He was recently appointed CEO of Dutch production house Submarine. Here are his thoughts on what 2016 amounted to, and what we should embrace in 2017. To read more on the year that was and the year that we live in now, check out “One Year Vol VI”:

“For the first time since internet started, this year I have started feeling a serious sense of digital overdosing. I have considerably slowed down my social networking. I have found myself strongly attracted to real life experiences and relationships. I have started appreciating again not having to digitally share my best moments beyond the people present in the moment.

I want to find a better balance between a reasonable amount of digital communication and interaction when needed, and physical, local, small scale but intense experiences that cannot be shared digitally. I want real to be a bigger part of my life again. I started reading printed books again… and I have started taking weekends with no internet contact…

At the same time I am more than ever, after this past year, excited by the creative and narrative potential of VR. I find it very hard to keep track of all the tech innovations in the field, cut through the hype and bullshit, distinguish what really makes sense from all the fluff and cheap gadgets. I can see through the projects I have done this past year how we are just scraping the surface of a completely new experiential media.

I believe VR has a wonderful future but it cannot be considered the end of everything and the interface for everything ( see above).

I look forward to :
room scale in live action VR | interactive gear that will give us more agency | collective presence in VR environments group work | collaborative construction in VR

This is what we have started seeing a glimpse of in 2016 and these new options in VR, when they are viable, will carry so much creative possibilities for storytellers, I can’t wait to try them out…

I also found out that there were tons of paths to explore in blending physical reality and virtual reality, to create hybrid experiences that can enrich and twist our vision of what it means to be alive.

Educational and medical use of VR are also two main areas that I want to study more.
My main wow in VR this year was “Allumette” for the tech performance of room scale in it; not so much for the slightly kitsch side of the great emotional dimension of the story.

My main personal reward was the fact that my sexual piece “Viens!” premiered at Sundance and that it went to so many prestigious festivals after that , leading me to recently develop it as a quite provocative installation in Berlin end of October. It has been a personal creative challenge but also a boundary breaking process for me, allowing me to use VR to discover more about who I am as a storyteller.

Now that I am at Submarine Channel, I very much look forward to developing groundbreaking projects in VR and interactive. It is a time to seed and plant, with a very dynamic creative scene appearing every where and particularly in Amsterdam. This is such an exciting creative moment, I feel very fortunate to be a part of it, of this moment when a new art form is being shaped and articulated.”

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