US Premiere of Small Wonders: The VR Experience At Metropolitan Museum Of Art

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Walking through 500-year-old artOnce I put the VR headset and headphones on, it truly felt like I was transported to another world. You could walk through the levels of sculpture and detail in the bead, which was a frieze of heaven on top, purgatory in the middle, and hell below it. There were easily 20 fully carved objects – humans, demons, and animals – in the five centimeter bead, with multiple layers of objects on top of one another to create a three-dimensional image. I was astounded to be able to see, as close as I wanted to get, the bead in all its detail.”— Stefan Palios,betakit

The Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab), Seneca’s School of Creative Arts and Animation, and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) are pleased to announce their groundbreaking virtual reality (VR) collaboration, Small Wonders: The VR Experience. It will screen for a special four-day limited-run as part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new exhibition, Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, February 22-27, 2017 at The Met Cloisters (99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040).

From February 24 to 27 during public hours, visitors can don a VR headset and explore a 3D rendering of a miniature boxwood carving from the AGO’s collection. The experience is free with general admission, reservations required, and marks a significant first for The Met Cloisters—the integrated use of VR to enhance the exhibition experience.

The exhibition Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, which runs through May 21st, brings together for the first time some 50 rare boxwood carvings from museums and private collections across Europe and North America. The exhibition offers new insight into the methods of production and cultural significance of these awe-inspiring works of art. Small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, these tiny masterpieces depict complex scenes with elegance and precision. Without fail, they inspire viewers to ask how a person could have possibly made them, a question that can only be answered today and a challenge perfect for VR technology.

“Much of the success of new VR will hinge upon the quality of experiences being created. Everyone is searching for that sublime encounter one can only have in VR. With the boxwood miniatures and their high-resolution scans, we have found the perfect, transcendent landscape to explore in this medium,” says Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, CFC, and Producer, Small Wonders: The VR Experience.

The AGO, CFC Media Lab and Seneca’s School of Creative Arts and Animation partnered to create Small Wonders: The VR Experience. Using one of the AGO’s micro-computed topography (micro-CT) scans of the miniatures, the creative and technical team led by interactive artist and designer, Priam Givord, developed an experience specifically for the HTC Vive platform. Viewers can explore the intricate carvings of the prayer bead from various angles and in detail otherwise inaccessible to the human eye. The soundtrack, Treasures of Devotion: Spiritual Songs in Northern Europe 1500-1540, echoes the ambience of the wider show. The result: VR enriches the contemplative and immersive experience.

Barbara Drake Boehm, the Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters said: “At first glance, the VR experience might seem anomalous in the medieval ambiance of The Met Cloisters. But, thanks to the efforts of the CFC Media Lab, Seneca and the AGO, VR opens a portal through which our visitors can tumble into a tiny world, and sense the meditative power that these centuries-old works of art were intended to convey.”

Small Wonders: The VR Experience was created by Lisa Ellis, Conservator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts (AGO); VR Creative and Technical Director Priam Givord (Interactive Artist/Designer); VR Producers Ana Serrano (CFC Media Lab) and Mark Jones (Seneca College); VR Technical Team Craig Alguire, Morgan Young (Quantum Capture) and Tyrone Melkitoy (Mobius Interactive); Composer/Vocalist Anne Azema, Artistic Director (The Boston Camerata); Narrator Gillian McIntyre; and Micro-CT Scanner Andrew Nelson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Sustainable Archaeology (Western University).

The exhibition continues at The Met Cloisters through May 21, 2017, but the VR experience will only run during public hours, February 24–27. To learn more about the Small Wonders exhibition and to plan your visit, go to: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2017/small-wonders

At The Met Cloisters, Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures is made possible by the Michel David-Weill Fund. It was organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

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Canadian Film Centre (CFC)
@cfccreates.comfacebook.com/cfccreates CFC Media Lab (CFC Media Lab)
@cfcmedialabfacebook.com/cfcmedialab
Seneca College
@senecacommsfacebook.com/senecacollegeArt Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
@AGOTorontofacebook.com/AGOToronto

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
@metmuseum | facebook.com/metmuseum

About CFC

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is a charitable organization whose mission is to invest in and inspire the next generation of world-class Canadian content creators and entrepreneurs in the screen-based entertainment industry. A significant economic and cultural driver in Canada and beyond, CFC delivers a range of multi-disciplinary programs and initiatives in film, television, music, screen acting, and digital media, which provides industry collaborations, strategic partnerships, and business and marketplace opportunities for talent and participants. For more information, visit  cfccreates.com.

About CFC Media Lab

The Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab) is an internationally acclaimed digital media think tank and award-winning production facility. It provides a unique research, training and production environment for digital media content developers and practitioners, as well as acceleration programs and services for digital entertainment start-ups and related SMEs. The Silo founder and Digital Editor Jarrod Barker and contributor Arthur Maughan are graduates and fellows of the CFC Media Lab. Program participants have emerged as leaders in the world of digital media, producing groundbreaking projects and innovative, sustainable companies for the digital and virtual age. CFC Media Lab is funded in part by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. For more information, visit  cfccreates.com.

About Seneca

With campuses in Toronto, York Region and Peterborough, Seneca offers degrees, diplomas, certificates and graduate programs renowned for their quality and respected by employers. It is one of the largest comprehensive colleges in Canada, offering nearly 300 full-time, part-time and online programs. Combining the highest academic standards with work-integrated and applied learning, expert teaching faculty and the latest technology ensure Seneca graduates are career-ready. Find out more at  senecacollege.ca.

About AGO

With a collection of more than 90,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’s masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002, Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit ago.net to learn more.

About The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City— The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City— The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

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