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Venice VR Expanded 2020

Sep 2, 2020 - Sep 12, 2020
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR
General Accessibility


The Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum have been announced as the exclusive U.S. partner for the Virtual Reality (VR) arm of the Venice Biennale through its Venice VR Expanded 2020 programming. This year, since many audiences will not be able to come to Venice for COVID-19 related reasons, Venice will come to them.

For the first time in its 125-year history, La Biennale di Venezia (the Venice Biennale) is offering its programming both online and at select venues around the globe, responding creatively to the travel and in-person gathering challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Venice VR Expanded 2020 is the official creative VR competition within the frame of the Venice International Film Festival.

Venice VR Expanded 2020 will take place September 2–12, offering access to immersive VR projects from 24 countries through virtual reality headsets in satellite installations, including the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center. Portland will be joined in this satellite network by prestigious galleries, museums, institutions and VR leaders in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Geneva, Hangzhou, Modena, Montreal, Moscow, Paris, Taipei, and Venice Mestre.

Virtual reality explained

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.

A safe VR experience

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 www.cleanboxtech.com.

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.

What is being shown?

Venice VR Expanded 2020 presents world premieres of Virtual Reality projects from over 44 artists from 24 countries—our Portland audiences will be among the first in the world to see these works! These pieces are the best of the best of VR right now, and showcase the work of both experienced and new creators and artists.

Big Hollywood and independent filmmakers are represented among the animated titles, and works from artists, video game designers, non-fiction storytellers, and animators round out the offerings.

All projects were selected by the Venice Biennale VR programmers, and many of the projects are in “competition” this year at the Venice Film Festival and will be awarded prizes by distinguished jury members comprising artists, filmmakers, gaming pioneers, and VR mavericks.

How does it work?

Participants will purchase tickets in one-hour increments online, and select from 39 different virtual-reality experiences. Audiences will also need to select one headset to see the work in during each viewing experience, to keep COVID-19 safety measures in place. 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 experience as much work as they can. Please explore our list of experiences and descriptions, and check back for suggested playlists of VR experiences curated by the Museum and Film Center.

When a visitor puts on a headset, the 360-degree screen will appear. A selection screen, similar to the Netflix menu, will appear with a list of projects. The user will select the project they want to participate in, and the experience will begin. When the experience is over, the user will go back to the main selection screen and choose again until their time slot is up.

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.

Can I Just Walk In And Buy A Ticket? What If I Love VR And Want To Go Beyond My One Hour Time Slot?

All tickets are online purchases only. You can book up to two hours—consecutively or non-consecutively—at this time.

How Much Do Tickets Cost?

Tickets are $25 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 VR Headset? I See There Are Three Different Ones. What Is The Difference?

The VR experiences are available on three different headsets: Oculus Go, Oculus Quest and VIVE. Each will offer a great experience, with different ways of exploring the stories and spaces.

Each headset is pre-loaded with the experiences and fits securely on the head. The key to VR is simple—be curious! Look up, down, behind and above you as the world is not just what’s in front of you, it’s everywhere, all around you.

  • The Oculus Go is the only experience that uses just the headset,  with no hand controllers. This is the most accessible headset and has nine experiences available.
  • Both the Quest and VIVE are experiences that also come with hand controllers to help you navigate the space,  they also provide more variety of experiences with 26 unique to VIVE and 6 unique to Quest. NOTE: All 9 projects for the Oculus Go are also available on Quest and Vive.
  • What is the hand controller and how hard is it to use? Think of this as having a remote control in your hand or joystick that will help you interact and move in the experience more freely.

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.
  • Subtitles and closed captions are not currently available for these VR experiences.
  • For those with limited mobility, Oculus Go is the most accessible headset and is a hands free experience.
  • We do not recommend VR with 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 access@pam.org or call 503-276-4284.
  • Children under 13 will also not be admitted at this time.

How Many People Will Be Able To See The Work?

The Ballroom will safely accommodate 14 participants per hour within social distancing rules, and all gear will be thoroughly sanitized with the most cutting edge safety precautions available between each visitor experience using the latest technology, Clean Box.