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Review: Particles of Existence | Immersive Exhibit @ PHI Centre

Review: Particles of Existence | Immersive Exhibit @ PHI Centre

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Montreal’s PHI Centre, a multidisciplinary arts and culture organization well known in the VR Industry for being a standard bearer of Virtual Reality as an Artform for years, heavily participating in international events such as SXSW and Sundance Film Festival, as well as for their support of award-winning VR Studio Felix & Paul.

Running all summer long, until August 12th of this year, the PHI Center is hosting an Immersive Exhibit entitled PARTICLES OF EXISTENCE. The exhibit lasts a full 2 Hours, thanks to its impressive lineup of critically-acclaimed content:

  • Chalkroom, created by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang
  • Chorus, created by Tyler Hurd, produced by Chris Milk (WITHIN) and Megan Ellison (Annapurna Pictures) with music by Justice
  • Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt, created by Ubisoft Montréal
  • Fistful of Stars, created by Eliza McNitt, produced and commissioned by National Sawdust
  • In the Eyes of the Animal, created by Marshmallow Laser Feast
  • Isle of Dogs: Behind the Scenes (In Virtual Reality), created by FoxNext, Fox Searchlight, Google Spotlight Stories and Felix & Paul Studios
  • Roxham, created by Michel Huneault, with Maude Thibodeau and Chantal Dumas, produced by NFB, in collaboration with Le Devoir, Phi and Dpt.
  • Space Explorers: A New Dawn, created by Felix & Paul Studios, in collaboration with NASA, Oculus and Headspace Studios.
  • The Sun Ladies, created by Christian Stephen and Céline Tricart, produced by Maria Bello and Céline Tricart
  • Treehugger: Wawona, created by Marshmallow Laser Feast

While I absolutely loved every single one of the experiences, the following truly stood out to me, each of them for their own reasons. Here’s my Top 3:

I knew going in that I’d like Chorus, if only because of the music by Justice. What I had forgotten about the experience prior to my arrival was that it is a Collaborative Experience, where multiple people can experience and interact simultaneously! It was really cool to be totally immersed in the story, while being able to interact with the friends that came with me, and the strangers we met just prior to strapping on the headsets. So cool.

This one got to me, as it is a beautiful yet emotional story. The Sun Ladies tells a truly compelling story, one that needs to be seen and heard by all. There’s something inspiring in seeing people turn a horrible situation into something positive. While the level of cinematography kinda left me wanting a little bit more at first, I then realized the insane conditions (you know, shooting this in the middle of a warzone!) the crew was in, which made me appreciate it even more. I truly urge you all to look for this piece.

I’m a dog person. A sucker for a dog, to be absolutely honest. Without being a huge fan of his, I’ve always had a great level of appreciation for Wes Anderson’s movies. Knowing that the characters in this stop-motion animated film were voiced by some of my favorite actors such as Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston and Scarlett Johansson, to name a few, I had high expectations for a Behind The Scenes look at the making of this film. I’m happy to report that the folks at Felix & Paul Studios did not disappoint in their Isle of Dogs: Behind the Scenes experience!

Special mention to Treehugger: Wawona, for its use of the medium to tell a great, truly interactive story. I couldn’t really break it down without killing the punch, so all I will say is that I enjoyed being a tree! 🤗

I encourage anyone that lives or will be visiting Montreal over the summer to head over to the PHI Centre to enjoy this great exhibit!