Video: 'Cardboard City', An Interactive Documentary

Video: 'Cardboard City', An Interactive Documentary
October 8, 2016
Cardboard City, an interactive documentary, held its World Premiere at the 54th Annual New York Film Festival (NYFF) at Lincoln Center on October 1, 2016. Directed by Kiira Benzing of Double Eye Productions, and produced by Stina Hamlin and Alyssa Landry, Cardboard City is part of the NYFF “Convergence” program, which offers an array of immersive experiences that redefine cinematic storytelling.
  1. In 2015, over 300 artists were evicted from their studios in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus. Blending Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and user-generated content, Cardboard City, is a hands-on, interactive installation that uses these artists’ stories as a jumping-off point. Viewers uncover the stories of Gowanus artists and activists through AR; step inside an artist’s studio in VR; and come together to build a new cardboard city, adding their own buildings, memories, and stories to an ever-evolving cityscape.

    The 60-second VR film Cardboard City provides an immersive visit inside the enchanted studio of Brooklyn-based stop motion animator Danielle Ash, who has built a cardboard world inside her studio from the pickle vendor, to the bakery, to the neighborhood bar. As her studio comes to life, viewers find themselves transported inside a cardboard rollercoaster.

As part of the installation, the Augmented Reality landscape features the work and stories of Gowanus artists, Jessica Dickinson and Marc Handelman, as well as interviews with the arts activist and founder of ArtBuilt Mobile Studios, Esther Robinson; and Arts Gowanus director, Abby Subak.

Participants are encouraged to write down their thoughts and reflections about what an ideal neighborhood should be, before tucking their answers into one of the many windows in the cardboard landscape. They then make a cardboard building that they would like to see in this future city, one that they have helped to create.

The object is to spark a conversation about gentrification and to raise awareness that we all have a voice in the shaping of our communities.

  1. The buildings made by the participants over the course of the installation will be scanned to create 3D models that are to be incorporated into a new future city, co-created by all the participants. The reflections and wishes left behind in the cardboard landscape will also be integrated into this virtual city, which can be revisited on-line.

  2. This future virtual city will be built with the collaboration of VRDoodler.


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