Still from inside Collimation's environment in AltspaceVR, featuring virtual street art from Dan Lish.
An exclusive look at the new entertainment company founded by Young Guru and Adrian Rashad Driscoll, which will host its inaugural virtual gathering in AltspaceVR on Feb. 5.
From events to gatherings to entertainment, 2020 was a collective crash course in virtuality. Stuck inside, people were forced to adapt their work and personal lives to digital and remote formats. As more of us have logged more hours in these non-physical spaces, they’ve begun to gather equal weight to their physical counterparts and register as “real.”
In music and entertainment, platforms like Wave, Jadu, Fortnite, and Roblox offered audiences new digital avenues to engage with artists like The Weeknd, Pussy Riot, Travis Scott, and Lil Nas X, respectively. These events increased individual and collective literacies for how to discover simulated spaces and interact in them.
If 2020 was the year we had to learn the hard way, 2021 stands to be the year that these lessons are put to use to drive novel and meaningful experiences through digital technologies—experiences that lean into the strengths of virtual and immersive formats. According to Cofounders Adrian Rashad Driscoll and Young Guru (Gimel Keaton), these are the lessons infused into their new venture, Collimation. It’s a multi-hyphenate production agency and entertainment platform that seeks to connect dots—be it across technologies like augmented and virtual reality or across groups of people in need of connection.
“People need connection now more than ever; our main goal is to connect artist with community,” Driscoll, a filmmaker and technologist, said in an interview with the author. “We want to give you the energy of a stadium concert with the intimacy of an MTV Unplugged experience.”
This focus on intimacy is designed to give artists and audiences a space to connect in a personal way, even without being able to share the same physical environment.
“Collimation is connecting the dots by bridging the gap—bringing artists closer to their fans,” said Young Guru, an audio engineer best known for his collaborations with JAY-Z, including the Grammy-winning Everything Is Love by The Carters.
Collimation’s breakout event, a collaboration with DreamlandXR, will kick off on Feb. 5 at 8pm PST, in a custom-built environment in AltspaceVR, Microsoft’s social VR platform. Users can enter free via mobile app, PC/Mac, or any major VR headset.
Hip-hop artist Rapsody, whose most recent album was heralded by Rolling Stone a “masterpiece of Hip-Hop feminism,” will headline the event, with DJ Sophia also slated to perform.
Rather than try to recreate the spectacle of IRL concerts, Collimation instead aims to channel the intimacy that immersive digital formats uniquely afford.
“Big concerts are great, and the energy they create can’t be replaced,” Driscoll said. “Our concert experiences allow users to feel true artist connections in smaller venues.”
UNSPECIFIED - UNSPECIFIED: In this screengrab released on October 27, Rapsody performs for the BET Hip Hop Awards 2020. (Photo by 2020HHA/Getty Images via Getty Images)
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In these smaller-form venues, users will find other opportunities for connection, ranging from looking at virtual street art together to participating in a live auction of Dan Lish’s NFT-backed (non-fungible token) artworks. While the launch event leans heavily into the virtual concert format, Collimation Partner Harold Hayes, Jr. explained that it’s the first offering of many.
“Collimation is here to connect artists and fans through meaningful experiences expressed through all mediums, including VR, AR, animation, and live action,” Hayes said.
Right now, Collimation is focused on building a platform that fosters a strong virtual community, but the founders see the accessibility-forward approach translating naturally into the post-Covid future, whenever and wherever that happens to be.
By augmenting physical offerings through immersive media integrations, Collimation hopes to invite audiences from all over the world to participate in events that take place in a single geographic location.
“Once life gets back to a sense of ‘normal’ we will provide true ‘extended’ reality experiences,” Driscoll said. “Once concerts start again, we are creating extensions of the concert experiences that you can enjoy in your home.”
For more information about Collimation, including the Feb. 5 launch event, visit the official Collimation website.