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TWIST360 Event Report :

October 13
, 2016 - November 12
, 2016
Seattle's first queer immersive media festival TWIST360º ran October 13
November 12th at venues throughout Capitol Hill.
Celebration dinner with Rose Troche and participants from TWIST360º Bootcamp
It was a magical two weeks of exploring and EXPERIENCING the intersection of queer
culture, art, cinema and technology. Here’s a sample of what transpired:
TWIST Opening Night party-goers experience 360º photography at the TWIST360º
Photo Booth. The images were projected on a 16ft weather balloon!
Over 150 people viewed the international VR shorts program at the
TWIST360º VR Gallery, including the first wave of Seattle queer immersive
3 days of body swapping (from 13 year-old to 83 year-old bodies) in the live VR
art experiment The Machine To Be Another.
Panels & discussions with local and international artists and technologists
about the promise and pitfalls of immersive technology and storytelling
A conversation with indie cinema & VR pioneer Rose Troche about her
journey of moving from traditional cinema into VR
15 queer and queer-friendly artists and filmmakers participated in
TWIST360º Bootcamp to learn the fundamentals of 360º immersive video.
TWIST360º hosted a 360º photo booth at TWIST's Opening Night party.
Partygoers had their pictures taken in our 360º set. The images were converted and projected
on a16-foot weather balloon.
For many it was their first experience with 360º photography. The folks who
ventured behind the curtain (aka the step and repeat) got a tutorial from TWIST360º Creative
Director Sandy Cioffi on the principles of shooting in 360º, how a self-stitching camera works,
and the process for converting the images for projection.
TWIST360º VR GALLERY @ Northwest Film Forum, Oct 14-16
We brought 150 people through the TWIST360º VR Gallery, and 90% of them were
experiencing VR for the first time.
The TWIST360º VR shorts program featured the first wave of queer VR from New York,
Australia & UK:
fabulous // Toby Coffey, Nation Theatre of Great Britain
Syd & The Internet: Smile More // Lance Bangs, NYTVr & Within
Invisible // Lilian Meherel
Virtual Drag // Alison Bennett, Megan Beckworth, Mark Payne
One of our favorite moments in the gallery was when Walt Disney amusement ride designer
and Imagineer Bob Gurr stopped by. As the video captures, he was fully captivated by and
immersed in the VR short fabulous, an animated rendition of falling down the
rabbit hole. Bob gets the award for being the most animated viewer of the weekend!
On Sunday, October 16
, we hosted a special Works In Progress viewing and
conversation with local media makers Dacia Saenz (Show Me Tiger storytelling and
media making) and Wes Hurley (Waxie Moon, Zolushka, Peter and the Wolf, Capitol Hill
web series), both of whom are working in 360º for the first time.
Wes showed a Works In Progress of his immersive 36short Potato Dreams of America, and
Dacia showed a Works In Progress of Experience PRIDE, which was shot at this year’s Seattle
PRIDE parade. Both pieces are produced by VR content start up Mechanical Dreams.
We had a lively conversation about the process of moving from traditional filmmaking into
360º, the excitement and challenges of working in a new medium, and how queer aesthetic
intersects with 360º worlds.
THE MACHINE TO BE ANOTHER @ Erickson Theater, OCT 21-23
The Machine To Be Another project was in residence for 3 days at Erickson
Theatre, Oct 21-23. 100 people of varied identities - cis, trans, gender non-conforming,
gay, straight, folks of color, white folks, young, old (from 13 to 83!), couples, strangers,
mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, tall, short - came through the experience that uses virtual
reality technology to explore the relationship between identity and empathy by virtually
placing you in someone else's body. The reactions to the experience, from giggling to awe
and tears, were just as diverse as the folks who participated.
The TWIST360º inquiry was to explore gender through the expansive way in which queer
culture has always disrupted, expanded, and redefined gender. While we're pretty sure we
didn't smash the gender binary, it was fascinating to observe how the experience both
simultaneously highlighted (in its binary format of engaging 2 people) and dissolved
Each day part of the program was allotted for local queer artists to engage with the
BeAnother team and lead their own experiment. The featured artists were drag
performer BenDeLaCreme, Lion's Main Art Collective, and choreographer Coleman Pester
(Tetonic Marrow Society). Coleman's participation was part of a joint program with the 9e2
Here’s what Lion’s Main reported about their experience:
Our members have unique identities and diverse relationships to gender and embodiment.
By "being another," even for a moment, we explored these identities and our bodies in
playful, confusing and even painful ways. Our trans members got the chance to experience,
for the first time, what it felt like to live in a cis body. As we synchronized our movements,
looked at our new selves in a mirror and felt out our forms, the illusion became so real and
we felt comfort and peace. The experience provided answers to questions for those of us still
exploring our identities, simultaneously causing relief and sadness. Some of us were re-
embodied in the sorts of bodies we used to have, evoking gender dysphoria when we felt
the illusion and dissonance as we distanced ourselves. Each of us came away from the
machine with a powerful and meaningful experience, allowing us a novel way to explore our
queer identities. As VR technology becomes widespread, more of us will benefit from this
type of experience.!
We created opportunities for BeAnother Lab artists to talk about the research behind the
project. On Thursday, October 20th, BeAnother Lab Team members Marté Roel & JJ
Devereaux Hood gave a presentation at UW CoMotion Labs. They discussed the science that
informs their work as well as the range of ways they use the project, from body swaps to
"embodied narratives" in which you experience somebody else's body while hearing a
personal narrative.
We also hosted “Technology for Good," a panel discussion about the innovative and
creative uses of immersive technology for social good. The panel, led by Sandy Cioffi,
included BeAnother Lab collective members Marté Roel and JJ Devereaux Hood, game
designer Evie Powell (Verge of Brillance), and design researcher Abhigyan Kaustubh (The
Rat Lab).
On the last day, we brought Machine To Be Another to the Lake Washington Girls
Middle School and demoed it for 3 classes of 6th, 7th & 8th graders. The girls were very
curious and engaged by this use of virtual reality. When asked who they would swap with if
they could swap with anyone, the resounding answer was Beyoncé!
Four days of watching people virtually explore each other's bodies and then ultimately
embrace “the other” as oneself was restorative in these times of deep division. It was a
heartening reminder that the human potential to engage and explore difference is more
accessible and immediate than we might think.
We were so excited by our time with the BeAnother Lab and the project that we are already
working on a plan to bring them back to Seattle in the near future.
TWIST360º launched an incubation program, sponsored by Oculus, to train queer artists and
artists interested in making queer-themed content in immersive 360º storytelling. Fifteen local
artists and filmmakers were selected to participate in the TWIST360º Bootcamp, a day-long
lab taught by fearless 360º’s Sandy Cioffi and indie cinema and VR pioneer Rose Troche.
A meet and greet on Monday, November 7
at the Cloud Room, allowed participants to
introduce themselves and to get an overview of the program. On Saturday, November 12
participants gathered at 9am for a deep dive into the history, gear, and potential impact of
immersive media. In the afternoon, participants experimented with 360º shooting and
developed a 360º project idea to present to Rose Troche. Rose led a lengthy discussion
about each project pitch, providing valuable feedback and concrete next steps. It was an
engaging and inspiring experience for everyone.
“I’m excited about it evolving. I’m excited about the emergence of a lexicon.”
We were thrilled to bring indie cinema and VR pioneer Rose Troche to TWIST360º. Best
known for her work in film and television Go Fish, Six Feet Under, The L Word, Rose is
pioneering immersive storytelling and was just voted one of the top ten women leading the
VR revolution by New York Magazine. In addition to working with TWIST360º Bootcamp
participants on project development, Rose gave a presentation to a full room at The Cloud
Room about her journey from traditional filmmaking to VR.
KCTS, Seattle public television, profiles Machine To Be Another
City Arts Magazine
“Through The Looking Glass,” Ellie Dicola
“Tiny Bubbles,” Brangien Davis
The Stranger
“The Bodyswappers; Can a machine create empathy?” Jen Graves
Seattle Weekly
“Seattle’s Virtual Road To Transcendence,” Kelton Sears
We want to acknowledge the many people who helped make TWIST360º a success. Thanks
so much to the artists, panelists, and everyone who watched VR shorts at the TWIST360º
Gallery, swapped bodies in the Machine To Be Another, and participated in formal and
informal conversations about the first wave of queer immersive media.
Thanks to Jason Plourde, Keith Bacon, David Hurst, and the whole team at 3 Dollar Bill
Cinema for their invitation to be part of TWIST and all their support; to Sarah Kavage and
John Boylan of 9e2 festival for co-presenting Sunday's Machine To Be Another brunch and
body swap; to Fran Dunaway and TomboyX for providing wardrobe options; to Patty Hearn
for inviting The Machine To Be Another to Lake Washington Girls Middle School; and to
Elizabeth Scallon for hosting us at UW CoMotion Labs.
A big shout out goes to Samsung for the headsets and to Oculus for taking a risk and
sponsoring our eclectic programming, from the 16 foot weather balloon 360º projection to
the VR experience that grounds you in your own body by placing you in someone else's.
TWIST360º was a production of fearless360º, a start-up a start-up collective working at the
intersection of arts, culture, education, storytelling and technology to develop content, programming,
and curriculum for immersive / VR / AR / 360º media. fearless360º launched in June 2016 with the
production of SIFFX, Seattle's first immersive storytelling festival.