CFC Media Lab VR Co-Production ‘Mother of the Forest’ Screens at BIFF

Posted: Oct 7, 2019

Poster for virtual reality production 'Mother of the Forest'

We are proud to share that Mother of the Forest, a co-production between CFC Media Lab and OCAD University through their joint Digital Futures program, is screening at the 24th annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) as part of VR Cinema in BIFF. From creator/director Kylie Caraway and produced by Ana Serrano, Mother of the Forest screens in the VR Theatre lineup, which exhibits a variety of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content and installations that are open to the public and free of charge until October 11, 2019.

Mother of the Forest is an immersive experience that explores a sequoia tree’s ecosystem through embodied perspectives of various species. As explained by Caraway, after donning a VR headset, “users are introduced to the hollow space of a sequoia ecosystem under stress. As users move into the tree trunk, they are introduced to the notion that trees are storytellers. Glowing rings slowly move forward, representing the rings of a tree trunk and the stories they hold of many entangled histories.”

An image from a virtual reality production of a sequoia forest

An image from ‘Mother of the Forest’

In this experience, scientific information gathered from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks experts is articulated in a combination of 360 video, digital environment design, and interactivity and exhibit the hidden truth, beauty and precarity at play in this ecology. Through the illustration of symbiotic relationships, it asks users to contemplate their own role in intertwined ecologies impacted by human activity, resulting in biodiversity decline and climate change (read about sequoias’ fight for survival here).

Mother of the Forest is the first co-production between CFC Media Lab and OCAD U that has come about as a result of the Digital Futures graduate program at OCAD U. It represents a tangible example of how early-stage ideas and prototypes materialize into thesis projects. Mother of the Forest director Kylie Caraway, a graduate of the 2019 program, created this immersive media production as a thesis exhibition in partial fulfillment of her Master of Fine Arts in Digital Futures at OCAD U, a program that operates in partnership between OCAD U and CFC Media Lab.

A collage of images from a virtual reality production, including images of sequoia trees

Images from ‘Mother of the Forest’

In the written component of her thesis, Caraway explains that she developed an interest in the science of environmental studies and the effects of climate change a while back and became set on figuring out how she could “contribute to the fight against climate change, for other species, and for better futures.” She realized that, with a background in filmmaking, she could use her skillset to tell stories that could help contextualize some of the effects of climate change and ultimately inspire environmental action. The Graduate Programs in Digital Futures provided the perfect opportunity for this undertaking.

CFC Media Lab and OCAD U are partners in the Graduate Program in Digital Futures. An innovative, student-centred program, OCAD U’s Digital Futures has part-time Graduate Diploma and full-time masters’ degrees (MA, MDes and MFA) options. The program responds to the increasingly important and sophisticated role of digital technology as a catalyst for change, and draws an international student cohort and faculty – a perspective key to securing its graduates’ futures in the ever-evolving global and creative digital industries.

Learn more about the Digital Futures Graduate Program at OCAD U here.

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