Bringing Immersive Art Installations to Life at Festival of the Impossible

Osma, installation by Camila Magrane, multimedia artist, at Festival of the Impossible in San Francisco. Photos by Angela DeCenzo

Ever want to speak to an android from the future? We recently held our second annual Festival of the Impossible (FOI), a three day event celebrating immersive artists who are pushing past the boundaries of reality to bring “impossible” creative visions to life. This year’s theme – Human-Machine – explored how immersive media is ushering us into a new era of co-creation and storytelling.

FOI features a curated collection of six artists who are creating across many immersive mediums including 3D and augmented reality (AR), to explore new avenues of creative storytelling by inspiring and engaging us with their visions.

“Immersive media is allowing us to experience both depth of expression and depth of emotion,” says Stefano Corazza, VP and Head of Augmented Reality at Adobe and the festival’s founder. “It can feel as natural as the real world, but it can also project us into this whimsical, dreamy world, that goes beyond reality.”

Stefano has been on the front lines of AR for years, including his work developing technology for 3D character animation as the former CEO and co-founder of Mixamo (acquired by Adobe in 2015) and leading strategy for Project Aero, Adobe’s new AR authoring tool for immersive experiences (currently in private beta).

This exciting new era of breakthrough experiences where the physical and digital worlds are merging is allowing us to bring this immersive content into the real world. Speak to an android from the future, witness a plant grow before your eyes after being “fed” by social media interactions; get swaddled in a compression carpet – and be inspired! See the science of tech and the art of creativity converge through “impossible” art exhibitions and how it’s changing the way we interact with the world, how we work and play. Read on to learn more about the artists and this year’s boundary pushing work at Festival of the Impossible:

Camila Magrane

Camila is a multimedia artist exploring the involvement of tech and interactivity in art. She has a background in computer science and enjoys coding interactive videos, installations, and games.

For FOI, Camila created _OSMA, _an interactive sculpture that explores our online identities and our psychological dependence on social networks. Every time OSMA receives a new “like” or “follower,” her mood is enhanced, allowing for her body’s terrarium to stay lit and for drops of water to be released in the plant soil. Aside from the real plants that are growing in the terrarium, Camila created AR plants, using Adobe’s Project Aero, that also take form around the living structure.

“Younger generations are growing up with Instagram as part of their identity and are setting unrealistic expectations for themselves,” she says. Camila wants her audience to have conversations about the effects of social media on our society.

Gabe Barcia-Colombo

Gabe is a mixed media artist whose work focuses on collections, memorialization and the act of leaving one’s digital imprint for the next generation.

Do machines understand humans as works of art? Gabe’s project, Collectors, explores our relationship with artwork. In his installation, an avatar decides if it finds an audience member interesting enough to take a photo of you.

“We judge people so easily online. I want people to question how we treat people who we don’t have face to face contact in the real world,” Gabe says.

Lucy McRae

Lucy is a sci-fi artist and her work explores themes of body, beauty, biotechnology, and the self.

Lucy created a Compression Carpet that swaddles you and holds you tight, simulating the feeling of being held or hugged. This immersive experience allows you to feel reconnected and energized, especially as technology is increasingly isolating us and causing us to feel a lonely disconnection with ourselves.

“We’re moving towards a touch crisis where we’re inundated with technology, to the point of anxiety,” Lucy says. “I’m interested in making art that speculates on human evolution. The phenomenon and science of touch is fascinating — when somebody hugs you, the hormone oxytocin is released in the brain. Can art be responsible for triggering hormones?”

Neil Mendoza

Neil’s art combines sculpture, electronics and software to bring inanimate objects and spaces to life. Using this medium, he explores the absurd, the humorous, the futile and the surreal to offer a human element when showcasing his use of technology and its connection to society.

For FOI, Neil created Disruptive, a series of machines that explores human interactions with the natural world through a surreal lens.

“People often act as if they are separate from nature, treating it as if it were a machine designed to produce on command,” Neil says. “With this piece, I wanted to create a series of devices that examines this relationship.”

Ani Liu

Ani’s work examines the reciprocal relationships between science, tech, and their influence on human subjectivity, culture, and identity.

Her project, The Simulator, contains a toolkit of objects and wearables that simulates the feeling of being pregnant. She imagines a future with ectogenesis in which we’ve freed women from what some might see as the inconveniences of pregnancy, but she also ponders what society loses by doing this.

“I’m pregnant right now and it’s become a big source of inspiration for my work. I hope this piece inspires others to question the tension between the efficiency of biotech versus traditional biological processes,” Ani says.

Stefano Corazza with Tyler Bryant

Stefano is the mastermind behind Mixamo’s advanced technology and a true Renaissance man active within the domain of large scale kinetic and new media art. He has been a key driver on the evolution of Adobe’s Project Aero, making it easier for designers to create immersive content.

Together, he and Tyler use immersive tech to develop art that uses innovative video animation, large scale art installations and music. For FOI, they’ve created Ractive, a face-to-face experience with an IV generation android in augmented reality (AR), and have developed an avatar that takes on human qualities to engage with visitors.

“Emotional connection is one of the most meaningful things in life, so I want to try to recreate these unique experiences that go beyond reality,” says Stefano. “We invented the Festival of the Impossible to create a space for ideas outside the norm that can surprise and inspire us. We hope the art will engage the audience in an even deeper and more meaningful way this year.”

Find out more about the Festival of the Impossible, featuring immersive art installations, at the Chandran Gallery in San Francisco. Stay tuned for updates on Project Aero, our powerful new AR authoring tool, here.