How would you describe your curatorial practice?
I am curious about how technology and the digital age will affect the way we engage with stories. That is what drives me in my work. I started my curatorial practice in cinema and, in the last few years, I have focused on immersive mediums such as Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality.
How did you arrive at your curatorial focus?
My passion for the moving image started on my first outing to the cinema when I was three years old to see E.T., but it was only 30 years later that I would bring this passion into my career path. As Head of Programming for the film and technology festival Digital Biscuit, I took a close look at innovation in storytelling for the screen. This experience sparked my interest in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality, which led me also to curate for projects such as the Berlin-based re:publica conference, where I applied my experience to look into works dealing with the intersection of arts, technology and society.
Can you describe your method or practice methodology?
I am always on the lookout for interesting work even when I do not have a specific project in mind. I tend to collect everything that sounds interesting or makes me curious to explore further. This means lots of digital notes–I use Evernote for that, for example–and I always have some paper and pen close by. I mostly believe in developing long-term relationships with people I previously worked with and try to follow their work over the years. Whenever I start working on a new project, I first go through my notes and check if anything might fit, and I do specific research on people and works that are relevant in the context of the project.
What inspires you about curating the kinds of artworks/aesthetics you work with? How do you see these as ‘expanding’ contemporary art/art forms, and where do you see them going as aesthetic tendencies or directions?
I have a soft spot for the whimsical and dreamy aspects of art. I am often attracted to pieces that stimulate my imagination and explore situations and themes that transcend our reality as we know it. Perhaps that is why I fell in love with the possibilities of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
There are a few things that attract me to these newly-rediscovered mediums. One of them is that creators and curators are challenged, as they must think about their audience in every step of the process. Another interesting aspect is the fact that we still do not have a clearly defined grammar for this medium. I find that pretty exciting! Last but not least, this is an inherently multidisciplinary medium and I think that also reflects the way we will be tackling future challenges in society.
I see VR/AR/MR growing to become a very strong set of media in its own right and reaching a level of immersiveness that includes all our senses in the experience. I also think these mediums will become more social than we expect. We are social beings and we will find ways of creating concepts that connect people across the experience.
How do you see the installations and exhibitions you curate in relation to the broader contemporary art field and aesthetic orientations in society? How would you describe their place, contribution, role or ‘urgency’?
A medium that puts the audience at its centre is very timely in our atomised society. Today people are being born into a world where being connected is a given and where social media gives everyone a platform for interacting with the world and expressing themselves. Therefore, I believe that a medium where artists can create immersive participatory works can speak very closely to an audience born and raised in our contemporary society.
Everyone loves the videos of grannies trying VR for the first time. However, this initial awe will die off and this is what will push the medium forward. The following generations will not be impressed by a handful of tricks. Creators will be challenged to develop new directions in aesthetics and concepts specific for these media and future audiences.
FERNANDA PARENTE is an independent Moving Image Curator living in Berlin. For 4 years, she acted as Head of Programming for the film and technology festival Digital Biscuit, where she took a close look at innovation in storytelling, including VR, AR and MR. In 2017, she worked with re:publica to curate pieces focusing on the intersection of arts, technology and society. She has also moderated and presented at the News Impact Summit, Retune Festival and Berlin University of the Arts. Fernanda is driven by her passion of the moving image and her ravenous curiosity about how technology and the digital age will affect the way we engage with stories.