Collaboratorio RI.vie.Ra: a new Triveneto network to study virtual reality

An insight into Collaboratorio RI.vie.Ra, a multidisciplinary project based in the North-East of Italy to spread knowledge about VR and its applications.

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After surviving the final work on our most recent research book – (Ri)conoscer l’industria alimentare. Come definirla, censirla e studiarne la strategia d’impresa written by Ludovico Ferro – I’m back to present you a new local project dedicated to VR and its applications.

Some months ago, during the River College Virtual Reality, I met a professor who worked in a high school near Venice. A meeting made in Heaven, someone would say, because Antonella Solida (that’s her name) is as enthusiastic about things as a kid would be, but also someone so used to work with the Res Pubblica that she cannot help but be a very concrete and practical person.

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River College Virtual Reality

That’s exactly why, in just a few months and after some interesting discussions between me, Antonella and Romina Zanon (visual artist and deputy art director of the River Film Festival of Padua), the Collaboratorio RI.vie.Ra was born.

Collaboratorio RI.vie.Ra is a network to whose creation contributed some brilliant people working in VR, technology and cinema in the North-East of Italy: Antonio Giacomin (video editor and creative technologist, founder of fluido digital experiences); Massimiliano Borghesi (sound designer and founder of post-production audio studio All you need is sound); Emilio Della Chiesa (cinematographer and artistic director of the River Film Festival) with his cultural association Researching Moviedon Giovanni Fasoli (professor at IUSVE Istituto Universitario Salesiano di Venezia, clinical psychologist and expert in education and cyberpsychology); Francesco Maggiolo (Math professor and expert on ICT for learning). With them, the Istituto Tecnico Commerciale “Maria Lazzari” in Dolo, Venice, and the Municipality of Stra, where the beautiful Villa Pisani – the villa that inspired the first project of the Collaboratorio – is located.

[…] a place where different disciplines and players meet to understand how VR can be used in various situations and environments through active experimentations on different levels (educational, psychological, technological). All this to spread knowledge about this media and its potentialities in the local territory the network is set in.

Excerpt from the presentation of “RI.vie.R.a”, research network on VR, XR and AR

Last december, the admirable energy and foresight of Antonella Solida brought us the first official event of the Collaboratorio, an event that took place in the scholastic institute that supported the network’s creation.

On December 14th, the ITCS Lazzari hosted “E tu come sogni?”, a day on virtual reality and its applications in cinema, education, psychology and society. An event which involved all the members of the network in various roles.

As it often happens in these cases, no matter how carefully you plan things: there are always emergencies: streets closed because of an unexpected snowfall, logistic problems with the Oculus headsets, sudden sicknesses that could have stopped the event before it even started.

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I was one of the people who, due to a flu, could not be present and had to enjoy the day from my sofa. Yet, even from far away, I could not help but appreciate the enthusiasm and commitment of the guests that made this first multidisciplinary meeting an undoubted success.

Starting from the people who, despite not being physically there, gave their contribution to the event, such as don Giovanni Fasoli. In a video he sent to the students – and that was shown after the introduction made by the school manager Barbara Paggetti – don Fasoli talked about Spielberg’s movie Ready Player One. Virtual reality, he says, is “an ‘other’ dimension, a place where you can try to be someone else and invent another self”. “Not because you want to escape from something”, he concluded, “but because you want to meet yourself”.

Talks dedicated to classic cinema and more modern media followed this introduction. Emilio Delle Chiesa, currently working on the VR short Giotto – Beyond Borders, opened the dialogue with a reflection on film festivals. After his talk, Antonio Giacomin and Massimiliano Borghesi discussed VR storytelling and 360° sound, first in a panel, and then in a practical workshop for the students.

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Antonio Giacomin and Massimiliano Borghesi during their morning panel

The same students had also the chance to experience linear VR shorts during the afternoon.

Dreams of Blue, a wonderful and surprising 360° work directed by Valentina Paggiarin (we talked about it here), and the documentary Daughters of Chibok, winner at Venezia76 for Best VR Story, were among the available stories.

For our Collaboratorio this event represents a first step into a path that aims to connect the school system and the local system to the world of VR. And the importance of virtual reality is made clear in the Collaboratorio statute itself: “[VR is] a field that is fundamental to develop new courses, experiences and skills useful for expressive, artistic, technological, IT related and scientific education. It is also useful to attract the interest of women towards science, education and technology

A path on which I’ll update you in the months to come.

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