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ACMI is presenting the event in partnership with Sandpit, Google’s Creative Lab and Grumpy Sailor.

Ghosts, Toast and the Things Unsaid opens in time for Halloween as part of Melbourne International Games Week from 29 Oct to 13 Nov.

ACMI in partnership with Sandpit, Google’s Creative Lab and Grumpy Sailor presents a new VR commission called Ghosts, Toast and the Things Unsaid as a short and unusual kind of exhibition where viewers don a ghost costume to view the work instead of a regular VR headset.

Ghosts, Toast and the Things Unsaid invites audiences into the lives of two characters, Maude and Steve, and into the kitchen where they fell in love and grew old together over 50 years.

The exhibit at ACMI is based on a play co-developed by Google's Creative Lab and Sandpit which was first performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, where it won the ‘Best Interactive’ award). ACMI’s commission incorporates a 360 ? video recording of the live performance into a 16 minute VR experience.

For more information you can check the website.

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“All I want to do is rush back in…” – The Guardian

A VR experience that invites audiences into the lives of two characters, Maude and Steve, and into the kitchen where they fell in love and grew old together over 50 years, and broke up. The work is meditation on our propensity to keep secrets, the words that go unheard, and what this means for our relationships.

Online bookings are available one week prior to the performance and although booking is optional, it guarantees a place. Bookings are limited to two tickets and viewers must arrive 10 minutes before the booked time or their spot may be given away. The duration of the work is 16 minutes.

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DAN Koerner is creative director of Melbourne-based interactive experience design and technology agency Sandpit, and will be one of four speakers at Mildura’s 2016 Cultivator Conference this month.

Speaking to the Mildura Weekly recently, Dan, PICTURED, said his business aims to blend design and technology to create captivating experiences in the digital and physical world.

“We are a design studio, but we are unusual in the sense that we are interested in the real world, which has taken us to a whole bunch of places,” he said.

With a team of eight, Dan says he recruits people from a variety of industries to collaborate on national and international projects.

“We do interactive work and use directors, illustrators and designers to put the work together, so we have a different team all the time,” he said.

Collaborating with high profile companies including Google, Melbourne Zoo, Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Penguin Books, Dan believes the key to his company’s success is to put the audience first.

“We always put our audience in the centre of everything we do, and that can take a number of forms,” he said.

Originally from Renmark, Dan is looking forward to addressing the Cultivator audience in Mildura and inspiring young designers.

“I will be speaking a bit about our story and what we do, but will mostly talk about the humans we work with and introduce them to some people,” he said.

“SandPit has a real technology core, but I’ve always had a platform for storytelling and that’s the important part.

“To have empathy and understand the brief, immerse yourself and completely understand your audience.”

Continue reading on Mildura Weekly

For many years Halloween celebrations have seen people dressed up in a white sheet with circles cut out for eyes. The people at Sandpit, a digital studio experimenting with the latest technologies, wanted to take that concept a little bit further.

For two weeks in November, visitors to ACMI will be able to take part in Sandpit’s Ghosts, Toasts and the Things Unsaid exhibition – a virtual reality piece put together in collaboration with Google’s Creative Lab, and digital technology laboratory Grumpy Sailor.

It invites the audience to become the ghosts of a couple, Steve and Maude, and revisit the kitchen where they fell in love, grew old, and then, finally, apart.

“It’s a universal story,” says Dan Koerner, director of Sandpit. “It is about all the things you wish you had said, all the things they never said to each other. And, over a long time, that can escalate into a problem that was never intended from the get go.”

This world that the viewer is plunged into is what sets it apart from other virtual-reality works. “When most people think of virtual reality the things that come to mind are zombie hunts or first-person shooters,” Koerner says.

The most pleasing aspect of the project for Sandpit, Koerner says, is the reaction of the participants. “People are genuinely moved by it. It is very touching and that surprises them,” he says.

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ACMI has just announced a cutting edge, immersive virtual reality project that invites audiences into the mind of ghosts.

Ghosts, Toast and the Things Unsaid is an intimate virtual reality experience that invites audiences to become the ghosts of couple, Steve and Maude, and revisit the kitchen where they fell in love, grew old, and ultimately, grew apart.
The virtual reality experience is a collaboration between Google's Creative Lab, Grumpy Sailor and ACMI X resident, Sandpit, who are renowned for pioneering new creative technologies.

With a strictly limited daily capacity, the free event acts a meditation on our propensity to keep secrets, the words that go unheard, and what the consequences of it all has on relationships.

Catch it from Saturday October 29 to Sunday November 13 at ACMI.

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There have been consistent reports of heightened levels of suicide and even accidental death in farming and regional communities across Australia. While reports reveal that the number of traumatic deaths in these communities is greater than that of the general Australian population, research is limited and the investigation into the impact of these preventable deaths is quite low.

The latest statistics on suicide in farming communities in Queensland suggest that occupational farmers are twice as more at risk for suicide than the average Australian. This however doesn’t include people who may be farmers but have off-farm work, or people who may be technically retired but still contribute to farming work.

The stigma of suicide in farming communities has created a real barrier for people to be able to talk about their experiences. According Sam Haren, the director of Australian startup Sandpit, people who are dealing with a traumatic experience of suicide find it difficult to vocalise how they are feeling and what they are going through.

To break down and address the suicide stigma in regional and farming communities Sandpit has created a web application called The Ripple Effect. The startup is a personalised web application that presents real stories and experiences of people who have experienced suicide in their community. Each story is presented to the user in a way that is relevant to them and their relationship to the subject.

Continue to Startup Daily for the full article

By creating unique immersive and interactive experiences for the public to connect with its clients and collaborators, Sandpit shows how the latest technology can be used to communicate effectively in a modern world.

Based in Kent Town’s technology hub Base64, Sandpit was created three-and-a-half years ago by former Border Project artistic director Sam Haren with Dan Koerner and Robin Moyer. With the experimental theatre collective Border Project, Haren and his collaborators used technology to create participatory theatre standouts such as I Am Not an Animal and Half-Real. Haren left the company four years ago and soon after created Sandpit, which also harnesses technology for interactive experiences.

“When we started Sandpit I was really interested in taking those interests, in thinking outside the realm of performance, and thinking about other mediums which we could engage with to creative immersive, interactive or participatory-style experiences,” Haren says. “So, even though the companies are very different, there was a pursuit of an interest in interactivity, for me, in starting the company.”

Haren says Sandpit is a more commercial enterprise than the Border Project but the company still works within the arts and cultural sectors. They collaborated with Closer Productions to create the My 52 Tuesdays interactive photo booth and app for Closer’s acclaimed film 52 Tuesdays, worked with the Australian DanceTheatre to create a virtual reality experience and collaborated with Sydney’s Grumpy Sailor and Google’s Creative Lab to create the intimate and interactive theatre productionGhosts, Toast and the Things Unsaid for this year’s Fringe.

“We’ve done projects that are extensions of film and TV work, and worked in the mental health and wellbeing space, which has been really interesting. We’ve just done a project for Beyond Blue [The Ripple Effect] and we’ve also done a virtual reality and interactive experience for a property developer. There’s a fairly eclectic selection of companies, collaborators and clients in that mix.”

Haren says that Sandpit is interested in how new and emerging technologies are able to connect with people to allow them to have “meaningful interactions with a range of organisations and people”.

“For us, it is equally as interesting if it’s connecting people – like in the Beyond Blue project – so people can share experiences and learn about something that’s very specific that they need in that moment, as well as sharing the stories of someone like Maggie Beer with a member of the public who might want to discover more about her. It’s about how these things can be very intimate and interactive as a way to connect people. The technology will continue to change and evolve. We’ve just hit a stage where virtual reality has hit the mainstream. The rise of that medium offers all these interesting opportunities as people become more familiar with how to use it.”

sandpit-new-communication-adelaide-review

The company only has four full-time employees with another five on a contract or part-time basis. They want to keep Sandpit small and nimble, as this allows the company to work on diverse projects. “If we just employed three front-end web developers and three back-end developers it would mean our resources are very much tied to working to stay in that medium,” Haren says.

“We are trying to grow the business in a way where we have these core capabilities within the company but we’ve also got the ability to add and expand. That way we can be responsive to the kinds of projects that come up and the kinds of ideas that might need a particular kind of skill.”

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Does Haren believe a company such as Sandpit represents the future for communications agencies?

“It’s very interesting,” he says. “We’re in a time where we’ve moved on from this form of mass-communication from the 20th century. Many big advertising companies were based around these one-dimensional broadcast model forms of communication through television and radio, even cinema. Then the rise of the internet allowed this really interesting situation where communication is much more involving and participatory for people who receive the messages as well as people who are constructing them. YouTube is an example of that. The thing that gets circulated on YouTube might be someone’s weird cat video or it might be an incredibly-produced web series.


“I think we’re living in an age where there is a much more participatory form of communication and interaction. People have a hunger to be involved in that interaction and also only engage with things that are relevant to them. People are incredibly good at filtering out things that they don’t feel are relevant to them or feel like it is not genuinely speaking to them. We [Sandpit] get excited about ways where we can very meaningfully and genuinely speak to people or connect or engage with them in a way that’s not generic.”

Continue reading on The Adelaide Review

An immersive tech company working out of ACMI’s new co-working space has launched a platform aiming to curb the high rates of suicide in farming communities across Australia.

The Ripple Effect enables farmers in regional towns to connect, chat, and share experiences anonymously to address issues like the stigma surrounding mental illness and treatment.

Sandpit, which is a resident of ACMI X, developed the “online intervention” platform in collaboration with institutions like the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) and Deakin University for Beyond Blue’s STRIDE Project.

“The site is really about allowing people to share their own experiences and to connect with other people’s experiences,” Sandpit founder Sam Haren tells StartupSmart.

It’s not a crisis support service, but it does seek to provide an online place for people affected by suicide to safely share stories and not feel alone in their experiences, he says, and talking about suicide is one of the toughest challenges survivors and people affected by it face.

“We really hope that it takes a step in helping to break down the stigma around these kinds of issues,” Haren says.

With Australia losing seven people a day to suicide, the Ripple Effect actively seeks out and connects people in rural Australia who may be suffering in silence.

One of the key ways the Ripple Effect does this is by documenting and sharing real, lived experiences.

Recently, Haren and his team mailed out 10,000 postcards to farming communities, which asked recipients: If there was one thing you could share about suicide or its stigma, what would it be?

“A whole bunch of postcards came back and we were able to digitise those,” he says.

These stories were shared anonymously on the Ripple Effect and have been used in micro-documentaries.

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A curated, coworking space, ACMI X places virtual-reality producers alongside theatremakers and graphic designers.

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Since early May this year, ACMI has welcomed an eclectic mix of creators, inventors and entrepreneurs into its brand new 2000m2 co-working space.

ACMI X is one of the first co-working spaces offered by an established cultural institution in Australia, and it’s already spinning out some inventive ideas by deliberately colliding the arts with startups.

Among the mix of residents are animators, web developers, educators, UX designers and video producers, as well as media and communications students and researchers from RMIT.

Dan Koerner, founder of digital studio specialising in immersive technology Sandpit, is one of the space’s first residents.

“The fact that it’s curated brings an interesting culture to the environment,” Koerner tellsStartupSmart.

“Relationships bubble away slowly.

“My company is interested in interactivity and the world.”

One of Koerner’s recent projects, built in collaboration with Google Creative Lab, showcased to audiences a performance powered by mobile audio technology.

“It involves audience members placing a ghost sheet on their head and they can hear a performance,” he says.

The company is now working to add a virtual reality component so guests can immerse themselves in the performance through VR and audio tech.

Continue reading on StartupSmart