Virtual Gap Year is a short film by Pitch Studios and IAM Present exploring the post-technological futures of the internet. Entirely computer generated, the short is the first collaboration between the Melbourne-based creative studio and IAM, an alternative think-tank, consultancy and community, investigating the evolution of digital culture and its impact on our populations.
The film’s premise in Virtual Gap Year follows pretty much what it says on the tin. Pitch invited four artists – SmiskoAckerman, Lorna Pittaway, Twomuch Studio and Polina Zinziver – to imagine their own virtual travel destination which is explored throughout the film. Altogether, the plural collection of visions, art directed by Pitch Studios, embodies the themes of this year’s IAM Weekend’s festival in Barcelona. Taking place this week (21-23 March), Christie Morgan, the director of Pitch, tells It’s Nice That: “We chose to use the idea of a ‘virtual gap year’ as a meta-narrative for the project, presenting IAM Weekend’s key themes through the lens of an island-hopping, sun-chasing sabbatical.”
Christie and her team were keen to subvert the stereotypical cliches of a gap year by taking the audience on a digital experience in their own authentic style. Each artist interpreted a theme or topic of the festival in an open-ended way, akin to the plural way of thinking. “We wanted each artist’s work to feel like their own” adds Christie. The global collaboration highlights IAM’s ethos of inviting ideas with “limitless perception and multiple narratives”. More specifically, the works revolve around the festival’s key themes detailing the Quantumness of Archipelagos. In short, this polysyllabic term encompasses a whole range of other equally complex-sounding and thought-provoking areas including: decolonising and depatriarchalizing learning, decelerating ecosystems, reloading the futures of the internet(s), browsing the ethics of design, foresight and AI, and finally, browsing the ethics of design.
While the future of the internet is frequently given “a dystopian lens” of impending doom, Pitch Studios attempts to offer a more positive outcome for our increasingly internet-based culture. “The internet is still in very early stages” says the head of Pitch Portal Taylor Mitchell. Instead of focusing on the negative, Pitch “thinks it’s important to constantly reimagine how we use it, with a focus on connectivity helping to move our culture forward. I hope we can remould the internet to help us decentralise (and nurture) new ideas, creativity and understanding.”
Once each artist had submitted their own interpretation of the themes, the designers at Pitch Studios built a storyboard and wrote a script that suited the overarching tone of the works. Making several edits to the script, the creatives manage to bind together the group of highly “experimental and random” animations. “We didn’t want to put too much emphasis on the storytelling until the visuals were created”, says Taylor. “In many ways, it could have been a counter-intuitive process, but this way of building a story came naturally to us for this project.” And, once the individual scenes had been designed and animated, the studio worked with Marina Maekawa and Jennifer Loveless on the voiceover and editing “to ensure pacing and timing felt right.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.