About Illya Szilak

Illya Szilak is a transmedia writer/artist, independent scholar, and curator. She and her long time collaborator Cyril Tsiboulski (Cloudred Studio) were recently awarded a grant from Tribeca Film Institute/MacArthur Foundation to create a VR experience inspired by their online narrative installation Queerskins. Reconstructing Mayakovsky www.reconstructingmayakovsky.com was included in the second Electronic Literature Collection and was a jury pick for The Japan Media Arts Festival 2010. The animation done in collaboration with Pelin Kirca has been shown in eight film festivals around the world. Her second multimedia novel Queerskins www.queerskins.com was recognized by the Webby's in the category of NetArt in 2013 and was exhibited at the 5th International Digital Storytelling Conference in Ankara and at the Bibliotheque National in Paris. It was recently featured as part of a group show Queertech.io at three LGBTQ festivals in Australia. She and VR artist Oscar Raby (VRTOV Studio) received a grant from the Sundance Institute/Arcus Foundation to make a VR experience inspired by Queerskins. She is an Oculus Launchpad Fellow. Her longtime collaborator is interactive designer Cyril Tsiboulski at Cloudred Studio (NYC). Their current project is Atomic Vacation a narrative game for VR. www.atomicvacation.com and devblog at www. https://www.facebook.com/atomicvacation/ She blogs on Electronic Literature and the Arts for the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/illya-szilak/

We Did It!

#VR #Film #interactivecinema #tech #story

We finished shooting Queerskins: a love story episode 1 with Depthkit. The camera rushes are phenomenal. Hadley Boyd and Drew Moore gave their all for these performances. For updates–sign up for our newsletter at www.queerskins. com

Thanks again to Dawn Saito for excellent help with gesture and movement. Because visitors will mostly see the actors from behind at intimate distance, from the backseat of a photorealistic 1986 Cadillac Sedan Deville, actors had to learn to “act from the back” using posture, gesture, muscle tension. I watched the rehearsal tapes, chose gestures that actors actually “felt” and used that to begin choreographing them with Dawn.



Skywalker Sound Will Do Audio Design for Queerskins: a love story

We are really excited by this turn of events which came about by my posting a question about sound on the FB Spatial Audio Page. Thanks to Kevin Bolen at Skywalker whose smart, creative answer lead to further discussion and, in short order, a pitch. Sound is critical to this work, not only because of it is a spatial medium, but also because it activates visitor imagination and natural storytelling abilities in a way that visuals simply don’t. We were lucky to work with sound production mixer Laura Cunninham who suggested that we record Sebastian’s voice using binaural audio. It is amazing.

Below are two in-headset mock-ups created in between tech rehearsal and shoot. So many things could have gone wrong–but with the expert skill of Cory Allen, DP and lighting, and Supreet Mahanti, Depthkit director, we made it happen. The video, shot with Richard Hammer in MO, makes it feels like you are driving through a home video or rearscreen projection. It has a veneer of nostalgia and memory.

Queerskins: a love story updates–I’m sorry Oscar

Devastating. Oscar Raby (VRTOV) once advised me that I shouldn’t flay the user alive when writing a script for #VR.  I started out this move into VR by writing an experience based on the truckstop scene in Queerskins online. It’s basically the first time S. has sex. It was going to be abstract, but obvious and especially for heterosexual men intensely disturbing. All the gay men I shared the idea with loved it. Here is a still from the text online. queerskins screenshot

The picture of St. Theresa in Ecstasy by Bernini is my own, the video is from Derek Jarman’s erotic first feature Sebastiane (Jarman and Genet were muses for all of Queerskins). Eventually, I realized there was no way I would ever be able to make this, so the script morphed. But, it remains emotionally eviscerating. The proximity of the user to the drama between Sebastian’s parents in the front seat means they experience it viscerally. Rehearsals have been a kind of emotional bloodletting. So, I took Oscar’s advice, but then I kind of didn’t.

Can not thank the actors enough, Hadley Boyd as Mary-Helen and Drew Moore as Ed for their skill and commitment. They have given it their all and we end rehearsals hugging each other because it is so raw and painful. Cyril has put up a new page, so follow us there for more updates and information. Sorry, Oscar.

Missouri Here We Come

Progress on Queerskins VR.

We are flying to Missouri with Richard Hammer to shoot 360 video landscapes. In all our work, we are interested in the tension between the very human desire for transcendence through storytelling, art making, love, religion and now, VR, and embodied, material, historical reality. That is why it is so critical to us to actually haul ourselves to the places we write about. look for a photo travel log here and on Instagram/Twitter @atomicvacation.  missouri-river-valley-steve-karol

VR MX Fest photos and recap

Cyril and I went to give a workshop on Intro to Storytelling in VR and I gave a keynote about that based on our experience with Atomic Vacation. Both went really well. Our hosts were amazingly gracious and the creative energy was magic. Here are some shots of the workshop, venue, and afterparty. The students were so engaged. Can’t wait to see what VR experiences start coming out of Mexico! Also, yes, that’s me with a virtual man at the Post office in Mexico City. I make friends wherever I go.