Robots in Residence at Tribeca Storyscapes.
Credit: Richard Patterson for Bombay Sapphire

The Tribeca Film Institute has been funding and championing the transmedia genre for some time now, but this week marks the debut of Storyscapes, their first attempt at collaborating with the Tribeca Film Festival to present some of these projects to live audiences alongside the fest’s significant slate of films.

On entering the Storyscapes exhibit at the Bombay Sapphire House of Imagination, I expected to encounter some flat screen monitors, headphones, and keyboards for modest project interactions. What I got was so much more. If you don’t have time to read the rest of this post, here’s your takeaway: Go there now! Storyscapes curator Ingrid Kopp and her team have created a sexy space and true audience experience with engaging installations that match the immersive nature of the projects they represent.

Each of the five featured projects is already available online in some form, so the event producers were challenged to create ways to make the live experience stand out. As Kopp points out, there were numerous possibilities for presenting each project, but the ultimate goal was to tell stories in a space. She recalls, “We built the space around the projects. It’s important that audiences are transported, like when they’re entering a dark cinema. When you’re on the web that doesn’t happen as much. It’s too distracting. Here, we tried to create magic storytelling space.”

The overall “magic storytelling space” is achieved with dim lights, music, and a nightclub vibe. More importantly, each project has its own unique area, installation style, and possibilities for audience interaction and participation. In fact, a running theme among the projects is audience collaboration in the actual creation of the work, or what Kopp calls, “the tension between authorship and openness.”

This Exquisite Forest at Tribeca Storyscapes.
Credit: Richard Patterson for Bombay Sapphire

For example, at the Robots in Residence station, visitors reveal their innermost thoughts to intentionally adorable, camera-equipped robots, the results of which will be woven into a documentary film. At the Journal of Insomnia installation, audiences are invited to enter into a cocoon-like space and live the experience of an insomniac in the middle of the afternoon, all while answering questions about the meaning of insomnia. Meanwhile, at the This Exquisite Forest station, one can add frames to collaborative animated stories, some of which were initiated by renowned artists such as Olafur Eliasson.

Kudos to the Tribeca team for setting a new standard for live, interactive storytelling. The Storyscapes presentation makes me even more excited for the festival’s official Interactive Day, which we will be live tweeting at @povdocs all day on Saturday.

Get your free tickets to Storyscapes here.

For updates on the documentaries and interactive works at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs.

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Liz Nord
Filmmaker and multi-platform producer Liz Nord (Jericho’s Echo: Punk Rock In The Holy Land) is embracing transmedia with her new documentary project, Jerusalem Unfiltered and as director of Lyka's Adventure Labs. She has produced media projects around the world, including MTV's Emmy Award-winning 2008 presidential election coverage, and has presented on a wide range of creativity and media-related topics, notably as a TED speaker at TEDxDumbo.