If the Sundance film festival is about edge, then New Frontier—a cluster of digital-arts exhibits—is a fragile scalpel cutting deeply into the medium's creative possibilities.
The wildest experiments in story telling happen at NF. From virtual-reality video games to a 3-D video installation of a French woman who rebels against the omnipresence of video cameras by wearing DIY helmet that hides her face while sending her a video image of the people she meets to an interactive behind-the-scenes lesbian porn photo session, New Frontier will spin your head around.
One of the problems with such out-there digital installations is that Murphy's Law lives at the place servos, electronics, computer programming and creativity collide. But at the end of Sundance this year, everything was running smoothly—even the line at the video game EVE: Valkyrie moved smartly.
But for pure inspiration, Doug Aitken's relatively low-tech The Source was New Frontier's mother lode. In a massive immersive projection yurt—that's the best word I can think of—a couple dozen video interviews unwind with artists and musicians explaining how they do what they do.
The installation's technology is clever, yet unremarkable: In the center of the structure, the viewer is surrounded by the babble of conversation from several screens. But as he moves toward one of the screens, its audio becomes clear as the others fade. The effect is achieved with simple buffers and a few precisely placed speakers.
But The Source's temporary building on Swede Alley that allows the videos to be viewed from the outside simultaneously steals the show.