At the Crossroads of Media, Culture and Technology

New Frontier @ Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is a career pinnacle for many independent filmmakers. Long recognized as the premiere venue for up and coming film artists, each year Sundance debuts a fresh crop of new cinematic voices.  However, in recent years, Sundance is increasingly widening its spotlight to include the groundbreaking work of non-narrative storytellers working in the nascent fields of transmedia, multimedia, and digital interactive experiences.

Launched in 2007, Sundance’s New Frontier program has quickly grown in size and influence to become a must-see feature of each year’s festivities. Over the last three years, I’ve observed as the scope and quality of the installations improved demonstrably, culminating with this year’s collection of truly innovative and technologically advanced offerings.

The 2013 project slate included 3D light and paint installations, experimental narratives, interactive media pieces, augmented reality mobile apps, audiovisual maps, and multiple panels discussing what’s next when it comes to the intersection of technology and storytelling. What follows are a few selected images culled from the various installations, paired with Twitter responses that capture the sense of discovery for the audience.

Eyjafjallalokull (Joanie Lemercier)


Cityscape 2095 (Yannick Jacquet, Mandril, Thomas Vaquié)  —–  Augmented Real (Yung Jake)

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To experience Augmented Real, download the free app linked below, open it, and point it at the image of the rock.



Pulse Index (Rafael Lozano-Hemmer)

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As Sundance continues to expand the scope of its programming, I predict their New Frontier section (curated by Sundance Senior Programmer Shari Frilot) will emerge as the launch pad for a new generation of storytellers. Steeped in the narrative tradition of their predecessors, but fully conversant in the new language of digital media, they will create the transmedia experiences that will form the bedrock of the next 20 years of storytelling.

There are definitely rough edges on the emerging technologies and techniques employed by these artists. But, much as early audiences may have scoffed at the initial efforts of the Lumière brothers, Georges Méliès, and Eaedward Muybridge, the seeds of new narrative forms were most certainly planted by these early cinematic pioneers. And so it is today with the artists in Sundance’s New Frontier program as they blaze new trails at the intersection of technology and story.


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This post is categorized in: Art & Design, Entertainment

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