Immigration Stories of Americans From Pre-1620 Through 2018

National News
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Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) and its project, the Public VR Lab, are proudly launching the first of many parts of their Immigration in Full Frame project, the first national Virtual Reality (VR) filmmaking collaborative, which is curating immigration stories of Americans from pre-1620 through 2018 and incorporating them into a visual XR timeline. On Friday, Sept. 14, they are offering a sneak peak of 360 and VR stories created locally from families have recently migrated to America and others who have been here hundreds of years

Their Brookline and Boston-based work is part of a national project titled Arrival: Immigration in Full Frame and is comprised of a diverse cohort of over 15 artists, librarians, journalists, media practitioners and filmmakers from Alaska to North Carolina to Maine. This project will create the first immersive experience of immigration stories in 360/VR, collected from immigrant families arriving in 1620 to present-day United States as well as First Nation families who have migrated throughout North America and within the U.S. This immersive storytelling project demonstrates the broad diversity and beauty of American immigration, the ways we might re-imagine migration, and outlines a visual narrative of where and how Americans came together. Thus, everyone, whether they just immigrated to the United States, has family roots in this country that go back for centuries, or whose family arrived some time in between, is welcome to participate in this project by sharing their family’s immigration story.

While the first component of this project includes deeply compelling 360 and VR stories, Immigration in Full Frame is also ultimately building the field of Community XR through the development of story-based curriculum and production strategies for emerging media practitioners, and through the distribution of an XR experience at film festivals, community screenings with facilitated public discussions, and as a participatory StoryCorps-style installation at museums and at arts and cultural organizations.

BIG and The Public VR Lab will also be showcasing the first release of stories in their container at Hubweek from Wednesday, Oct. 10 through Sunday, October 14, 2018. In addition to watching these stories, visitors will also have the opportunity to share their own families’ immigration stories on film as part of an interactive component of BIG’s exhibit. These new stories will be included in the XR timeline, which is scheduled to launch as a separate immersive project in late 2019-early 2020.

“Nearly all Americans were once immigrants or migrants, but this project will view our individual immigration stories through the lens of history, the stories of local residents, and in the context present-day U.S. experiences of immigration. While these experiences have varied based on what was allowable at that time period, federal policies, what the obstacles were, and the unique passages taken to arrive on the shores of America, we are all Americans and have an arrival story,” said Kathy Bisbee, the Arrival product’s producer/director, executive director at BIG and co-founder of the Public VR Lab.

In addition, Aakanksha Gupta, a fellow at the Public VR Lab and recent graduate of Emerson College, has launched a Community Storytelling Guide as a resource to support storytellers and media-makers as they interview migrants who want to share their stories online in journalism stories. The guide is designed to help interviewers be better prepared to work with a wide range of migrants and effectively capture the details and nuance of their stories.

“This is especially important in the U.S., a country built on voluntary and involuntary migration,” says Gupta. “Through this guide, I want to help storytellers learn how to be more inclusive and responsible, and to help keep minority communities safe.”

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