New Technologies

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival has always been at the forefront of embracing new technology to further artistic endeavour and open up new worlds and experiences to audiences. ASFF 2021 continues to embraces new technology as part of its diverse programming, with frontier-pushing exhibitions and screenings that put virtual reality, sound and immersive experiences at the core. We preview this year’s VR and immersive events.

The LCF Interactive Media Lab (2-6 November, 12:00-19:30; 7 November, 12:00-18:00) is an interactive exhibition at Spark York that examines how digital platforms are changing the way we produce and experience film-based media. The displays are structured around three conceptual categories: Augmented Worlds, exploring the application of VR, AR and MR in fashion and performance; Embodied Interactions, where physical gestures control on-screen narratives; and Critical Explorations, considering the influence of social media.

Amongst the films on show is Si Chen’s Bubble U explores how virtual reality can be combined with art therapy to help ease anxiety and support emotional well-being, both now and for the future. Tomorrow is an interactive film installation that explores the climate emergency. And Lewis Douglas’ The Television – Do We Need It? asks a vital question for times ahead: how will screens blend into our own understanding of reality?

Across the Screen School VR Lab (2-7 November, 11:00-20:00 at City Screen Basement), ASFF and UAL’s London College of Communication’s Screen School invites audiences to explore the future. For the fourth year, the festival presents 360° cinema and immersive experiences. On show will be ten 360° films and six Immersive Experiences. The wide variety of subjects shows the myriad uses for VR. Be Your Own Dentist is a film of self-discovery and oral surgery, whilst Cine Metro is a recreated tour around one of Rio De Janeiro’s finest ever cinema palaces. Virtually There, meanwhile, is a series of vignettes that places viewers in the shoes of those affected by a single knife attack.

The VR Lab is complemented by a series of panel discussions, welcoming pioneering filmmakers and creatives to delve into the making and realisation of VR and 360 film through the lens of ethics, production and storytelling. Topics include Spatial Sound: Building Authentic Audio and Writing in 360: Segmenting Narratives. Those who are joining the festival virtually will also be able to access the 360° films with an at-home VR headset, available when your purchase your Festival Pack.

Audio experiences are also explored. Amazonian Traces of Self (5-6 November, 12:00-21:00; 7 November, 12:00-16:00) is a multi-speaker sound piece by experimental vocalist and sound artist Yifeat Ziv, based on her experience in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Through the use of field recordings, voice improvisation, electronics and text, this work explores the intimate intersection of environmental listening and the human voice. Ziv, whose recent works were performed in BBC Late London, Museo Reina Sofia and Design Museum Holon, was longlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize in 2021.

The 2021 Aesthetica Short Film Festival runs from 2-30 November. Tickets start from £25. For further details, visit: