The Regina Folk Festival is over, but its anniversary celebration continues with Past 50/Future 50.
Regina multimedia artist Ryan Hill created a virtual reality project exploring the history of the RFF, which is on view through Aug. 30 at the Regina Public Library Central Branch.
Using graphics and posters of the festival over the decades, Hill used sound and technology to create different worlds to be explored with the help of a VR headset.
Using VR technology for the project seemed “a little bit counterintuitive maybe to a folk festival,” Hill said. “But it was sort of like, what can we do with it to make it kind of a folky technology?”
Hill was attracted to the festival’s posters and graphics, and used that imagery to create different virtual reality worlds.
One of those worlds is like the backstage of a music venue, featuring many historical RFF posters.
Another is inspired by a 1998 poster that featured drawings of trees growing from guitars: “I took a guitar note, one note, from a piece of music from that year,” said Hill, “and then each tree, when you interact with it, will play the guitar note at different pitches.”
Although Hill often works with sound in his art, in this project he “wanted to focus on the imagery because the festival itself is so focused on the sound.”
Even so, the stage is the centre of the virtual world, because “it’s the focal point of the whole festival.”
Hill’s first step was to 3D-model the stage, and “when you go into the VR experience and you’re sitting in front of this life-sized stage, it does feel like you’re there, but it’s abstract to a degree.”
When considering the “Future 50” of the Regina Folk Festival, virtual reality could play a role, said Hill.
“There’s a lot of possibility for presenting concerts or music or audio in that kind of environment. I know there’s a lot of concerts nowadays that are happening in VR, like Oculus, and Facebook … so it’s a growing thing.
“It’s kind of like this turning point,” added Hill. “Social media, new technology and people streaming music, and … technology’s sort of seeping into those kind of organic experiences.”