Still of Critical Distance, 2021, directed by Chris Campkin and Adam May.COURTESY TRIBECA IMMERSIVE STORYSCAPES, © PASSION PICTURES
In 2018, a study conducted in Japan by a team of researchers led by Ryota Kondo, Maki Sugimoto, Kouta Minamizawa came to a striking conclusion about virtual worlds. All we need to have a sense of self in them, the researchers wrote, is simply a pair of hands and feet. But what would it take to have a sense of a body that isn’t human? A few works at this year’s edition of Tribeca Immersive Storyscapes, a branch of the famed film festival devoted to immersive installations, offer some answers.
The piece Critical Distance (all works 2021), directed by Chris Campkin and Adam May, brings us underwater to the aural landscapes of orcas. The only installation at Storyscapes that isn’t a VR work, it depends on augmented reality technology and holograms to bring to life the J-Pod, a small group of orcas who live off the coast of British Columbia. Its focus is something invisible to us land-dwellers: underwater noise, which orcas and other animals can sense intimately via echolocation.