PARK CITY, Utah — Year in and year out, some of the most completely exciting things I see at Sundance aren’t on any theatrical screen but rather are part of the always invigorating New Frontier installations at the Yard exhibition space. This year was no exception.
Curated as always by Shari Frilot, 2013’s installations are presented under the rubric of “The Pixelated Pavilion,” an exhibition that promises to “immerse our physical bodies within moving image environments.” It does that with a vengeance.
Two of the best things to see were created by different members of the group AntiVJ. “Cityscape 2095” is a three-dimensional full-color cityscape that within 6½ minutes goes through a 24-hour cycle in the life of a generic future city, from sunrise to evening shadows to the neon coming on as night falls.
Even more involving is “Eyjafjallajokull,” which uses a painting and artfully projected light to offer a mesmerizing re-creation of the erupting Icelandic volcano that created so much trouble with European airline schedules in 2010. You don’t have to pronounce it to enjoy it.
Best of all is “Coral: Rekindling Venus,” a 45-minute film created by artist Lynette Wallworth. Viewable in a purpose-built full dome that holds only 10 people at a time (free tickets are necessary), all lying flat on their backs, “Coral” uses spectacular footage shot on Sony HD to take us deep under the ocean’s surface as seals frolic and coral pulsates all around us. As close as most of us are going to get to feeling like we’re in a James Cameron submersible, “Coral” is immersive cinema at its most spectacular.