By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
An exhibition of virtual reality (VR) productions by Jonathan Dotse (Ghana), Jim Chuchu (Kenya), Selly Raby Kane (Senegal) and N’gendo Mukii (Kenya) that revealed the potential of real-time / interactive VR ended last week at the Goethe-Institut in Accra.
Dubbed “New Dimensions”, it follows a recent workshop in the South African capital Johannesburg, which explored the potential for mobile virtual reality to create stories that reflect the diversity of Africa while building the capacity for cross-disciplinary experimentation.
A piece by Dotse, a Ghanaian Afro futurist, which captures the vibrancy and exuberance of the famous Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra, provides a virtual experience for those who missed the event while introducing those who witnessed it with a completely new capacity to recollect and reflect on the festival.
Titled “Spirit Robot”, it is a cacophony of images from performances, crowds, historical buildings and fisher folk on the Gulf of Guinea alongside voices and effects that effectively take the viewer on a virtual journey. Furthermore, it vividly reveals the essence of the festival, which is an alternative platform for artists.
“Let This be a Warning” by Kenyan artist / film maker Jim Chuchu is a short movie that explores the future with Africans who have managed to flee the earth and set up a colony on one of the distant planets and their response when an intruder encroaches on their territory.
Peering though the device, the viewer immediately gets the feeling of an unsafe territory – images of men wielding assault rifles and people going around with body guards is enough for the viewer to be alarmed while being reminded of the fact that no one is welcome to this exclusive territory.
Titled “The Other Dakar”, Senegalese designer / artist Kane showcased a magical 360 degree film, which transports viewers on a mute journey that encompasses the past and the future with emphasis on diverse people involved in the creative arts.
Noted for her three-dimensional molded shapes, bold patterns and use of unusual materials, her film presents highly enthusiastic artists who are bringing fresh energy and vigor onto the creative arts scene in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
Mukii’s “Nairobi Berries” show two women and a man in a state of struggle that depicts crime and other security related problems in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Indeed, they appear to be fighting for “fruits” that have been promised, which are gradually turning out to be fairy tales.
Presented as a poetic allegory, it allows for an extreme inner understanding – indeed, without control or power to make decisions, they seem to move from one scene to the next while participating almost as voyeurs – undeniably, being part of things but unable to direct them.
Opened by Dr. Fara Awindor, a senior lecturer at the National Film and Television Institute, “New Dimensions” was presented by Electric South / Goethe-Institut with support from Big World Cinema, Blue Ice Docs and the Bertha Foundation.