Better, Together: How cutting-edge immersive technology is colliding

Revealing the latest additions to the jam-packed BEYOND 2020 line-up, showcases focusing on the use of innovative technology to better understand ourselves, engage audiences and build our connections to each other.

Showcases including Born in Bradford and Immortal XR demonstrate how they use immersive technologies to create new ways of storytelling and authentic human experiences, together with artscience collaboration World In A Cell that simplifies our understanding of biological systems.

With insights into the making of new experiences and approaches, speakers from Manchester International Festival, Creative Informatics, Royal Shakespeare Company and Tender Claws reveal what happens when VR and immersive theatre collide and what the the future of festivals looks like – all in line with core BEYOND themes of Divergence (Day 1) and Convergence (Day2).

SHOWCASE: Born in Bradford

The Born in Bradford VR experience showcases the potential of data-driven storytelling using immersive technologies, machine learning, aesthetic devices and artistic imagination to engage new audiences with the multiple meanings hidden in large datasets.

The creators behind the experience believe that reimagining how people engage with data through experiential storytelling can inspire critical insights and dialogue between diverse audiences, bridging the gap between data scientists, policymakers and the public. These can lead to innovative leaps in research, well-communicated policy decisions and greater critical engagement with the world, society, and one’s place within it.

INTRODUCING: Gabrielle Jenks & Nicola Osborne

Gabrielle Jenks (pictured top) and Nicola Osborne join us on the second day of BEYOND to discuss the Future of Festivals, looking at how this future ties into our day 2 theme of Convergence.

Usually a staple of summer events, 2020 has seen the entire festival season cancelled or postponed. This session looks at how arts and music festivals are adapting to the disruption of the pandemic, and explores how this sector is experimenting with new models, content, and platforms. What are the biggest challenges it faces, and are there opportunities for creative reinvention in amongst the chaos?

Gabrielle Jenks is Digital Director at Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original, new work. She is also Director of The Factory, a world class cultural space due to open in 2021. Nicola Osborne is Programme Manager for Creative Informatics, leading the delivery of the project in close collaboration with academic and research colleagues and engaging with creative industry organisations across the Edinburgh cluster.


Immortal XR is a new entertainment format that will help artists and influencers to form a direct, omnipresent relationship with fans that is engaging, emotive, and personal. Immortal XR turns artists and influencers into interactive holographic superstars, with performance and conversation at the forefront of the AR and MR experience.

At BEYOND 2020, conference attendees will get an exclusive peek into Project Immortal. We’ll delve into our conversational engine where we combine holographic capture with AI generating life-like holographic clones powered by personalised input, Machine Learning algorithms, and Natural Language Processing, creating an authentic human experience.

INTRODUCING: Samantha Gorman & Sarah Ellis

With a shared interest in the intersection between VR and immersive theatre, Director of Digital Development at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sarah Ellis talks with Samantha Gorman, co-founder of Tender Claws, the games studio behind ‘The Under Presents: Tempest’ made in partnership with Oculus Studios, the first game to have a live theatrical run of live actors join players remotely.

Where immersive theatre meets VR. The game is a multiplayer experience set between two worlds: a jaunty vaudeville stage and the harrowing survival narrative. Players can uncover the story of a ship stranded in time as supplies dwindle and day-by-day an otherworldly mist rolls closer. The interlocking fates of characters are followed as their journeys forward must turn back or become lost.

Catch Sarah and Samantha as part of the Convergence theme on Day 1 of BEYOND, with their Deep Dive: The Tempest session, followed by Q&A.

SHOWCASE: World in a Cell

Although artists and scientists are thought to exist in very different worlds, they do not. Artists depict their view of the world using intuition as analysis, using a variety of visual media. Scientists attempt to understand the world through analyses of complex experiments and present the results using a variety of visual representations. World in a Cell unifies these two approaches.

World in a Cell is a transmedia project that uses Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to approach the way we share and depict biological data about the human body. The immersive experience inside the cell is making complex scientific concepts more approachable for the general public, and we believe it can ultimately change the way we understand how medications and treatments change biological systems.


To experience the showcases and speakers featured in this article, tickets for BEYOND are on sale now. Join us from 30 November – 3rd December 2020 for this year’s BEYOND – a unique, annual gathering of current and future innovators focused on Research and Development across the Creative Industries. The all virtual BEYOND 2020 is a space where thinkers, makers, investors and researchers across the creative industries come together to explore the relationship between creative research and business innovation. Find out What’s On and register for updates for all the latest.