Venice VR '21

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Tue, 09/07/2021 - 11:30am to 12:00pm
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Amy Dotson about Venice Virtual Reality Expanded ‘21

On Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. Joseph Gallivan interviews Amy Dotson about Venice Virtual Reality Expanded ‘21, which is a sampling of VR entries to this year’s Venice Biennial Film Festival.  

Dotson is the Curator of Film & New Media at the Portland Art Museum and she talks about how VR engages the emotions, how it plays with space as well as time, the use of Unreal Engine versus stop animation, and when the goggles will become household objects.


Venice VR Expanded runs at the Portland Art Museum through Sept 19, 2021 and costs $35 for one hour.


This show was recorded in Portland using via Zoom video conferencing software on Sept. 2, 2021.


From the website

Venice VR Expanded 2021

Sep 1, 2021 – Sep 19, 2021

The Fields Ballroom, Mark Building

COVID safety protocols include mask requirements, distancing between stations, and state-of-the-art Cleanbox headset sanitizing between users.

For the second year in a row, the Portland Art Museum and the Northwest Film Center will be the exclusive U.S. host for “Venice VR Expanded.” Venice VR Expanded is the official competition of immersive content for and within the frame of the Venice International Film Festival, organized by the Venice Biennale.

Venice VR Expanded 2021 will offer attendees the chance to view 37 exclusive immersive VR projects. After selecting their choice of an Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, or HP headset, users can experience the highly anticipated VR projects competing for the Grand Jury Prize for Best VR Work, Best VR Experience, and Best VR Story. The 2021 program in Portland includes 23 projects in official competition as well as 12 projects that represent the “Best Of” VR projects launched since last year’s program, including one Biennale College Cinema-VR project.

Following the success of Venice VR Expanded 2020, the Venice Biennale will collaborate with partners from around the world to extend the exhibition, offering more than two full weeks for attendees to experience the best from around the world. Many projects available for viewing are world premieres including: 

  • Spirit of Place by Dale Deacon
  • Myriad.Where We Connect | Vr Experience by Lena Thiele, Sebastian Baurmann, Dirk Hoffmann
  • The Last Worker by Jörg Tittel
  • La Plage de Sable Étoilé (The Starry Sand Beach) by Nina Barbier, Hsin-chien Huang

The complete lineup can be found here, and downloaded in our program PDF here. (Please note that “special events” and experiences offered only on the VRChat platform will not be available here in Portland.)


Virtual reality (VR) as an art form promotes curiosity and wonder, allowing others to share their worlds and audiences to walk in those worlds to explore. VR Storytelling has gone from the realm of science fiction to a cutting-edge way to see and experience art. Where film manipulates time, VR as a medium manipulates space, allowing viewers who don the headsets the ability to enter a realistic or artistically rendered 360-degree experience through visuals and soundscapes. You don’t just see the work, you are inside of it. 

How to participate in Venice VR Expanded 2021

Participants will reserve one-hour increments and select from 35 different virtual-reality experiences from a list of dozens, including some of the best animated, non-fiction, and creative storytelling work from around the globe. Portland’s Mobile Projection Unit will once again transform the ballroom space through site-specific projection mapping.

Tickets are available for purchase online at the Portland Art Museum website for $35 per one-hour time slot. Portland Art Museum members and Northwest Film Center Silver Screen members receive a $5 discount. All selected VR content will be accessible to viewers age 14 and older.

An online description of the programs and experiences will be available before the event, and participants are encouraged to make their selections beforehand. The experiences will be delivered on both Oculus and HTC Vive headsets.


The Ballroom will safely accommodate 24 participants per hour and masks are required for all staff and participants. All gear will be thoroughly sanitized by the latest technology, Clean Box, which sanitizes and eradicates up to 99.9%of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in one minute. All participants will receive a fully cleaned headset upon each new use. For more information, visit

The Museum and Film Center have also partnered again with Joshua Alan Young and his team at Reflective. Reflective is a New York and Portland-based immersive studio specializing in custom development for all things related to virtual and augmented reality. They are part of the core team producing Venice VR Expanded in Portland. Additionally, the Museum has received support from HTC Vive, who has generously donated VR headsets for the festival.


Participants will purchase tickets in one-hour increments online, and select from 35 different virtual-reality experiences. Participants will also need to select one headset for the duration of the viewing experience. Learn more about the headsets below.

Viewers will have 50 minutes to watch projects and participate in them. We allow for five minutes to enter and don the headset, as well as 5 minutes to exit safely.

IMPORTANT: Participants will be asked to familiarize themselves with the projects they want to see BEFORE arriving at the exhibition so that they’re able to maximize their experience. Full descriptions will be available here on this webpage in mid-August.

How Many Time Slots Can I Purchase?
Each visitor can book up to two one-hour time slots. Anyone interested in a piece that is longer than 50 minutes in run time can book a consecutive two-hour slot on the same headset.

How Much Do Tickets Cost?
Tickets are $35 each. Portland Art Museum members and Northwest Film Center Silver Screen members receive a $5 discount. All selected VR content will be accessible to viewers 14+.

What is the difference between headsets?
The VR experiences are available on all headsets: Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, and HP. All will offer a great experience, with different ways of exploring the stories and spaces, however, some projects are exclusive to each headset.

Is VR Accessible For All?
VR is an accessible medium for many but is built as a 360-degree visual and auditory experience. Creators and technologists are working now on additional ways to be equitable and inclusive with the medium through tactile and sensory additions, but as a new art form, there are at present limited resources available yet for a full range of accessibility needs.

  • For those who wear glasses, VR can accommodate them but if allowable, contact lenses or no glasses are preferable for comfort.
  • If you have an allergy to foam, we recommend using the HTC Vive or HP.
  • Subtitles and closed captions are not currently available for these VR experiences.
  • We do not recommend VR for those with a history of seizures, severe migraines, or vertigo/balance differences.
  • Cleaning will be scent-free for all equipment.
  • Chairs and stools will be available for all attendees should they choose to use them.
  • If you have accessibility-related questions or requests please contact us at or call 503-276-4284.
  • Children under 13 will also not be admitted at this time.




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Joseph Gallivan has been a reporter since 1990. He has covered music for the London Independent, Technology for the New York Post, and arts and culture for the Portland Tribune, where he is currently the Business Reporter. He is the author of two novels, "Oi, Ref!" and "England All Over" which are available on


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