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IDFA special (2): The last 4 minutes of JFK and 3 more ways to step into another world

The feeling of that day in Dallas

The installation looks like one of those refrigerated coffins in which the morgue keeps corpses. I can choose between JFK or Gadaffi. The former then. I get to lie down in the iron drawer. Hard metal. Rattling, I am shoved inside, the last glimmer of light disappearing as soon as the assistant closes the door. A strange sensation, but should I get too angry I can press the panic button.

Fortunately, no time to dwell on that for long. I am transported to the last four minutes of JFK. I hear street sounds, murmurs from the crowd, snatches of a radio voice rejoicing at the beautiful weather on this November day in Dallas. A gentle breeze blows in my face, mixed with indeterminate smells with a hint of popcorn. It evokes a kind of ambient feeling, much like it must have been during that final drive of President John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1963 in Dallas, Texas. The sound of bullets whizzing by.

Then the door opens again and I can get out. For anyone who has such a immersive experience also want to give it a try: it is much less scary and morbid than it seems at first sight.

Famous Deaths is called this project by artists Frederick Duerinck and Marcel Brakel, who explore what scent can add to such an experience. It is part of DocLab: Seamless Reality, which IDFA is organising together with De Brakke Grond. A programme in which artists attack reality, virtual or otherwise, to their heart's content with experimental (especially digital) techniques.

In drawn reality

Among the 30 interactive and non-interactive installations this year, many are using virtual reality. One of the nicest is Drawing Room by Sara Kolster and Jan Rothuyzen. Invited by the Bijenkorf, he drew about his stay high above the city in the department store's tower room.

When I wriggle my head into one of those Oculus Rift headsets (it remains uncomfortable for glasses wearers like me), I suddenly have the feeling of really being there. Surprisingly, that environment drawn in simple black-and-white still looks very realistic. I can really look down through the windows, at the swarming in the streets. In the dream sequence, I really feel like being lifted up among the stars.

Data seal

That virtual reality especially with animation can produce very beautiful things also proves the semi-abstract emotion representation LoVR By Aaron Bradbury. Data visualisation is called this branch of the sport. The brain signals at the giddy moment you fall in love transformed into a colourful, exuberant computer animation full of tumbling labels, graphic figures and short texts rushing through dark brain space like a love-fuelled train. Better description I don't know, because I can't compare it to anything. 'A poem written in data', the press release calls it.

Selfie as computer poem

I have the most fun with Ross Goodwin's That camera looks like an old-fashioned camera, but the inside is digital and connects to Goodwin's computer. Take a picture, of yourself, someone else or whatever. Image recognition software takes care of the picture, then the computer, based on what it thinks it sees, produces a kind of experimental poem. A picture in words, which the camera prints on a strip of paper and spits out.

This is a snippet of my selfie:

"In summary this landscape of this portrait whistles at that light. However, this man that giggles loudly sculpts the offense that wilts over this acute adult."

Anyone can do it through the website also try at home.

The above may have a high playground content, but there are also more serious projects, including virtual landscapes around photographs from WWI, a virtual visit to the border between North and South Korea and stories about domestic violence. There is a project involving surveillance cameras, you can take an interactive city walk with a stranger, and there are more traditional presentations in the form of website- or game-like applications. At Universe Within, part of the long-running Canadian web project HIGHRISE I discovered how a domestic worker in Singapore has organised a sort of union of peers via Facebook who help each other in all sorts of ways. Quite natural really.

The exhibition is free and open every day from 9:00 to 23:00 during IDFA. There are also five Live Cinema Events, evening programmes with artists and audiences. For all IDFA DocLab.


Leo Bankersen

Leo Bankersen has been writing about film since Chinatown and Night of the Living Dead. Reviewed as a freelance film journalist for the GPD for a long time. Is now, among other things, one of the regular contributors to De Filmkrant. Likes to break a lance for children's films, documentaries and films from non-Western countries. Other specialities: digital issues and film education.View Author posts

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