Saturday 03/05/16 10AM-6PM
New Museum TheaterVisit Us

Versions: The Creative Landscape of Virtual Reality

NEW INC, Art and Technology

Cover Image:

Rachel Rossin, Lossy, 2015. Oil on canvas, 60 × 78 in (152.4 × 198.1 cm). Courtesy Zieher Smith & Horton

This event is sold out.
A livestream will be available on the day of the event ⟶

Copresented by NEW INC, the New Museum’s incubator for art, design, and technology, and Kill Screen, a video game arts and culture company, Versions is a new conference on creative practice and virtual reality (VR) that will explore VR as an emerging medium. Though VR has existed in some form since the 1960s and in the realm of science fiction for much longer, 2016 promises to be a breakthrough year for this technology, which will feature high-profile product launches and major releases in VR games and film. Conversations will span VR’s proclaimed status as an “empathy machine” to how it is being leveraged by journalists and the military; address urgent questions regarding emerging standards around ethics and practice; consider the technology’s relationship to the brain and its neurological and psychological effects; and examine how creative practitioners are exploiting the format’s opportunities for embodiment and immersion.

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9:15 AM: Registration

10 AM: Opening Remarks by Julia Kaganskiy, Director, NEW INC, and Jamin Warren, Founder, Kill Screen

10:15 AM: VR: The Last Medium?
VR offers an uncanny fusion of various creative practices in an intimate and immersive virtual environment. Drawing on visual art, sound, film, gaming, architecture, design, and even theater, VR builds on the histories and traditions of these established disciplines and, at the same time, defies their rules and conventions. What unique qualities does VR offer creators? How are they wielding VR in new and unexpected ways? What reference points can they reliably turn to when writing the rulebook for how to navigate this new terrain? Are we witnessing the birth of a new medium? Or, is VR the continuation and evolution of an art form like gaming or film?

Speakers: Jessica Brillhart, Principal Filmmaker for Virtual Reality, Google; Torfi Frans Olafsson, Creative Director, EVE Universe IP Development; Neil McFarland, Director of Games, ustwo; and Rachel Rossin, artist

Moderator: Jamin Warren, Founder, Kill Screen

11 AM: Featured NEW INC Project: Giant, presented by Milica Zec and Winslow Turner Porter III
Giant is a short VR film by Milica Zec and Winslow Turner Porter III that recently debuted at New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival in 2016. In the film, two parents, trapped in an active war zone, struggle to distract their young daughter by inventing a fantastical tale, which intensifies as bomb blasts draw closer overhead. Inspired by real events, this immersive experience transports the viewer into the family’s makeshift basement shelter.

11:05 AM: Where Is My Mind? VR on the Brain
VR’s immersive qualities are closely linked to the science of optics and neurological stimuli, giving it the ability to literally fool the brain to create the sensation of embodiment. In this session, we will examine how VR interacts with the brain, how this experience differs from how we process other stimuli, and what new questions and considerations it brings to light. We’ll explore everything from motion sickness to hallucinatory experiences to VR’s much-hyped potential to elicit empathy and treat PTSD in soldiers.

Speakers: Skip Rizzo, Director of Medical Virtual Reality, USC Institute for Creative Technologies; Ken Perlin, Professor, New York University; and Marte Roel, Cofounder, BeAnotherLab

Moderator: Julia Kaganskiy, Director, NEW INC

11:50 AM: Featured NEW INC Project: Kokowa, presented by Jesse Finkelstein, Meredith Finkelstein, and Peter Zusman
Kokowa is an online platform for easily creating, sharing, and exploring 3-D, augmented reality (AR), and VR environments.

11:55 AM: Break

12:15 PM: VR at the Inflection Point
We are currently riding the third wave of VR, and, so far, it seems to be the most promising in terms of its potential to break through to the mainstream. In this session, we will examine VR’s past successes and failures and assess what we can learn from its previous attempts. What has changed? What still needs to change for it to fully resonate with a mainstream audience?

Speakers: Shari Frilot, Chief Curator, New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival; Janet Murray, Professor, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and author of Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace; Aaron Koblin, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer, VRSE; and Andrew Schoen, Venture Capital Investor, New Enterprise Associates

Moderator: Monika Bielskyte, Founder, All Future Everything

1 PM: Lunch in the Sky Room

2:30 PM: Featured NEW INC Project: IrisVR, presented by Shane Scranton
IrisVR is creating a suite of professional software that allows users to visualize, share, and edit 3-D models in VR and AR. As a one-click solution to VR, their application Prospect is the first of its kind. It is built on a unique underlying engine that takes 3-D data and optimizes it for real-time viewing and interaction.

2:35 PM: Fireside Chat with Gene Dolgoff, Founder, 3DSource, and inventor of the Holodeck
Gene Dolgoff has spearheaded pioneering research in optics, holography, and AR for decades. Perhaps most famously, he is credited as the inventor of the Holodeck, which he produced after a fateful conversation with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, about the future of holography and AR. In this fireside chat, Dolgoff will discuss the evolution of immersive environments and the influence of science fiction on technological development, and vice versa.

2:55 PM: Featured NEW INC Project: DepthKit, presented by James George
DepthKit makes shooting, editing, and publishing volumetric video easy. By providing your video camera with depth-sensing capabilities, DepthKit lets you transform true 3-D live-action videos into VR and AR films.

3 PM: Does VR Need a Hippocratic Oath?
Working in VR raises new questions in ethics and practice. The platform’s capacity to create the illusion of embodiment and, purportedly, elicit empathy has made it an exciting new tool for filmmakers and journalists who seek to capture different communities and tell stories of social justice. But with this kind of unprecedented sense of access, what responsibilities do creators have to their subjects and to their audiences? What can we learn from documentary film and photography about how best to capture “reality”? Do we need accepted standards for how we work in VR, à la a Hippocratic Oath or Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics?

Speakers: Gabo Arora, filmmaker and Senior Advisor, United Nations; Sam Dolnick, Associate Editor, New York Times; and Rose Troche, filmmaker

Moderator: Lina Srivastava, Cofounder, Regarding Humanity

3:45 PM: Coffee Break

4:15 PM: Intimacy, Embodiment, and Alienation
What does it mean to look into another person’s eyes, to hold their hand, to touch their face, and to possibly do something more? Can we fall in love? Can we break up? This panel will explore how the concept of intimacy translates to the virtual realm. By looking at what is gained and what is lost, this panel will inform ongoing conversations about what it means to be close with other bodies in another place.

Speakers: Ela Darling, performer and Cofounder,; Katherine Isbister, Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz; and Jacolby Satterwhite, artist

Moderator: Lauren Cornell, Curator and Associate Director, Technology Initiatives, the New Museum

5 PM: Featured Project: Mecha Mouse, presented by A Good Place
Mecha Mouse is a cooperative VR game in which five players control a mouse-shaped, mouse-sized Mecha Mouse together. The player with the VR headset controls the head, while the other players control the limbs using gamepads. The game takes place in the future and involves a group of intelligent mice who are trying to get the ultimate treasure: cheese. Humans have deployed anti-rodent robotic defenses, so the team must communicate and work together if they have any chance of surviving!

5:05 PM: Keynote Address by Douglas Trumbull, filmmaker; Visual Effects Supervisor, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture; and Director, Brainstorm and Silent Running

5:35 PM: Closing Remarks by Julia Kaganskiy, Director, NEW INC, and Jamin Warren, Founder, Kill Screen

Lunch, coffee, and water will be provided for all attendees.

6:30–9:30 PM: After-Party

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*Tickets for this program are available by applying here.*
Early Bird Registration (available January 12–February 12, 2016): $400
Includes access to the full day of panels and single admittance to the Versions after-party at the New Museum

Regular Access Ticket: $500
Includes access to the full day of panels and single admittance to the Versions after-party at the New Museum

Premium Access Ticket: $750
Includes access to the full day of panels, single admittance to the Versions after-party at the New Museum, and admittance to the private dinner for Versions speakers and sponsors on Friday, March 4, 2016

Artist and Student Discounted Ticket (artist or student status must be verified): $100
Includes access to the full day of panels and single admittance to the Versions after-party at the New Museum


NEW INC is the first museum-led incubator and a hotbed for cultural innovation. Extending the New Museum’s mission of supporting “New Art, New Ideas,” NEW INC brings together a cohort of one hundred creative practitioners working across disciplines to examine and invent the future through applied art and design thinking. Their partner for this event, Kill Screen, is a video game arts and culture company interested in the intersection between games, play, and other seats of culture, from art to music to design. Kill Screen publishes a website and a magazine, and organizes events such as their groundbreaking Arcade installation at the Museum of Modern Art, a film festival with Rooftop Films, and programming for the New York Film Festival.


NEW INC is made possible by a generous grant from Goldman Sachs Gives, at the recommendation of David B. Heller & Hermine Riegerl Heller.

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