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This year’s Tribeca Film Festival uses AR and VR to explore music-making and empathy


Visiting the Immersive arcade at the Tribeca Film Festival is always challenging. Every year, there are way more virtual reality and augmented reality experiences to try out (not to mention creators to interview) than I can squeeze into just a couple of hours.

This year, as always, I was only able to check out a handful of projects. They ranged from the serious and political to the playful and colorful — though even the playful projects were still exploring some ideas about creativity and human connection.

Terminal 3, for example, uses augmented reality to put the viewer in the position of an interrogator with airport security: You meet and interview a Muslim traveler, and you get to choose from different questions before ultimately deciding whether or not they should be allowed into the country.

Artist Asad J. Malik told me that as someone who grew in Pakistan, “I’m an expert on [airport] screenings, because I get screened a lot.” For Terminal 3, Malik interviewed real people (one of the options is an interview with Malik himself), though the person you see in front of you doesn’t appear photorealistic. Instead, they’re almost like a digital ghost who might gradually become more lifelike, depending on the questions you ask.