The 12th Auggie Awards “Best Art and Film” of AWE 2021, was won by “Peaceful Places” an experimental project in VR, realized by Margherita Landi and Agnese Lanza, two Italian choreographers (from Florence), who work developing AR, VR and project mapping projects, with the Gold Enterprise company of which they part.

Unexpected win, an all-Italian victory, that surprised them at 4 am (Italian time – CET), celebrated in California, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, on the evening of November 10th.
The award was collected by Giovanni Landi, Head of XR Design at CREAL and finally Margherita’s brother.

Giovanni Landi on the stage of AWE 2021, during 12th Auggie Awards to retired “Best Art or Film”

PEACEFUL PLACES: the project

PEACEFUL PLACES is an experimental project that is both a physical and emotional experience thanks to VR. It’s a 360 movie designed to invite people to move.
In such a tiring historical moment for our bodies, we wondered how physical confidence is changing in pandemic times.

The idealization of the contact that we miss so much, in contrast to the fear of approaching others raises several questions: how to enjoy a physical experience that we fear so much? Will we be able to touch each other when this historic moment ends? And how can we not lose memory of this wealth? When we will be allowed to hug a stranger with confidence?

Peaceful Places - Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, Italy
Peaceful Places – Gold Enterprise – Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, Italy

In contrast with the image of “bodies as weapons”, an image that has been used by various thinkers to define the relationship with the other nowadays, we propose the image of “bodies as peaceful places”. After having avoided so many bodies in the last year, finally we have the possibility to meet with others.

In the video the viewer will meet five couples with different real relationship (grandfather and grandson, mother and child, mother and adult daughter, friends since childhood) and will imitate their gesture. The user will have the chance to imitate, and so incorporate, the hugs and the affective gestures that will see in the video. The user then will start moving and composing a unique simple choreography made of affective gestures.
Virtual reality in this sense becomes a tool to deepen the physical experience and, at the same time, a physical language tool from a VR headset.

Peaceful Places - Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, Italy
Peaceful Places – Gold Enterprise – Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, Italy

Aiming for an emotionally and engaging experience, the project wants to deepen the possibility of creating a choreographic score starting from immersive videos of real bodies that tell their stories.
Viewers will have the chance to “travel” in the physical contact, in a sort of participatory installation where the choreographic materials are given in real time to the viewer.

Peaceful Places aims to be an experience of proximity, thanks to virtual bodies, and at the same time an experience of absence, of loneliness. In fact, public we will see a flock of bodies hugging the emptiness.

Director Statement

Movement become dance when a gesture is done with poetry. To do that, between the gesture itself and its realization, there has to be a space for listening to emotions in place and to act a reinterpretation that allows to translate it into dance. Our artistic research combines technology and movement with the intent to let dance emerge from everyday gesture.

The project aims to allow everybody, all kind of body, to transform their emotional state into dance, letting the user learns in a contemplative state. Imitation is a basic tool to embody and VR is very effective tool to engage the audience emotionally.

Peaceful Places wants to focus on the body as a place, where we all actually live in. In this pandemic world bodies became a place of war. Peaceful Places is an installation that has the power to let people experience both proximity and absence at the same time, and this paradox give an important perspective on the historical moment we are living now.

Peaceful Places - Italy
Peaceful Places – Gold Enterprise – Italy

The use of 360 video goes in the direction of an hyper reality instead of a non real reality. So real bodies, real people, real bonds and their real emotional stories. This is also why we chose to develop a 3dof experience of movement, instead of a 6dof interactive one.

Margherita Landi e Agnese Lanza - Gold Enterprise
Margherita Landi e Agnese Lanza – Gold Enterprise

Margherita Landi

Choreographer, dancer and anthropologist since 2014 she has been involved in research on the body and new technologies and how this relationship transforms some of the most common human rituals, over time she has explored Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Projection mapping and different social media.

In the last two years she has focused on VR for the embodiment potential that this technology offers, studying choreographic transmission techniques through the VR headset, in 2020 her choreographic project “X-Dealing with Absence” was selected by Biennale College Cinema VR.

Her work aims at a reflection on the conscious use of technology as an experiential and creative tool, eliminating the human/artificial dichotomy that tends to attribute a negative value to the technological tool, interpreting it instead as a possible extension of the body itself, therefore capable of ” augment” the experience that can be made of it.

Agnese Lanza

Contemporary dancer, she has worked with several choreographers such as Rosemary Lee, Tino Senghal, Robert Clark, Anton Mirto, Maciej Kuzminsky, Sioned Huws, Virgilio Sieni, Company Blu and others among the UK, Italy and Japan.

In London she worked as a rehearsal director for young companies such as Dance United Company, Trinity Laban Youth Company and Step into Dance Company, as well as teaching dance for children at Trinity Laban.

As a choreographer she created the “Inter Pares Project” (2013-2017); “In / ti / mo” (2018); “Tactum” (2019-21); “Tu-Torial” (2020); “La Reverie” (2021) plus other commissioned works, all in collaboration with other dancers.
Since 2017 she has been working as an artistic assistant to Virgilio Sieni and as a dance teacher for children and adults in different contexts.

Thanks from Margherita Landi

Margherita Landi – Gold Enterprise – Italy

AWE Nite Florence

Gold Enterprise with Omar Rashid, he has already been a speaker of AWE Nite Florence, during the January 2021 event, Overview of the Italian XR Ecosystem presenting the company and some projects made during the lockdown and beyond. Therefore, the rise of this company continues, among the best on the Italian scene in the XR sector.

AWE Nite Florence

Florence has won again. AWE has its point of reference precisely in the city of Florence with AWE Nite Florence, home of culture and art. Florence AWE Nite Florence and ARea6DoF therefore continue to be a bridge to the future, a bridge between Italy and the World.

And what are you waiting for to get on board with your XR project? AWE Nite Florence waiting for you!

Cecilia Lascialfari
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