2023 New Dimensions Lab

2023 marked the 6th edition of the New Dimensions Lab, hosted at FarmHouse 58 in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. The Lab brought together diverse African artists to develop stories through creative technology alongside industry mentors. Over a week at a private retreat, artists engaged in discussions, masterclasses, and workshopped projects while immersing themselves in Responsible AI for African Artists talks. With over 200 applications, twelve creatives from Ghana, Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, and Benin were selected.

Democratizing the space begins with giving artists the tools to create the content they want. Since our first Oculus-sponsored giveaway in 2019, Electric South realized this was vital for artists joining the XR community from the African continent. In commitment to supporting the ecosystem, we continued this tradition, providing each of the 12 participants an Oculus Quest to ensure ongoing access to XR materials and connection to the XR community via platforms like VRChat.

Electric South



Agnes Ndegwa - Creative Technologist
xcvxcvcxvx - Busi Mgwenya
Busisiwe Mgwenya - Creative Technologist
Hallie Headshots-04705 - Hallie Haller
Hallie Haller - Multimedia Artist
Headshot - Joanna Oluoch - Joanna Oluoch
Joanna Oluoch - Game designer at Tiny Baby Crown Studios
IMG_9065 - Karin Slater
Karin Slater - Artist and Filmmaker
Lindokuhle Nkosi - Writer and Editor
tondji headshot - Mahoutondji Kinmagbo
Mahoutondji Kinmagbo - Artist
Mikail-the-Muezzin-Bio Photo - Mikail
Mika'il, the Muezzin - Designer
Nana Isaac Opoku - AFROSCOPE - Artist
NICK HEADSHOT - nickson jeremia
Nickson Kimaro - Artist
IMG_5930 - shameelah khan
Shameelah Khan - Multidisciplinary Artist, Researcher and Writer
El Mosly_Soha01 bw - Soha Al Mosly
Soha El Mosly - Visual Artist
Violeta Ayala_Portrait_2020 - Violeta Ayala

AI as Alchemy: Transforming Codes into Social & Cultural Narratives by Violeta Ayala was live on 02 Nov - 09:00 - 10:30

Violeta Ayala
Award-winning Filmmaker, Technologist, Writer, and Artist
Violeta Ayala finds a balance between virtual and physical reality, discusses her fight against visual standardization, speaks to the overlapping between the physical world and the metaverse; and how this will allow us to modify our environments in real time. Violeta wants to create fairer forms of ownership within the emerging digital economies and to experiment with how to develop the social capabilities of avatars to explore the depths of augmented reality. She will touch on these issues that will inevitably arise during the production of digital experiences, either film or fashion and involve more than just content creation; it will encompass development of culture through 3D, sound design, motion capture, and real time user interaction in virtual worlds. “We should be envisioning and materialising our evolving digital identities instead of letting tech corporations determine them.” - Violeta Ayala.  
IMG_1009 2 - Karen Palmer

How to use Storytelling & AI to Save our Futures was live on 02 Nov - 17:00- 18:00

Karen Palmer
Storyteller from the future
Karen Palmer is the Storyteller from the Future, an award winning XR creator and futurist who explores the implications of A.I and technology on societal structures and the impact of in-equality. She does this through enabling participants to experience the future today through her immersive film experiences, that watch you back using artificial intelligence and facial recognition technologies. Karen recently won the coveted XR Experience Competition at SXSW 2023 with her film 'Consensus Gentium'. There have been numerous interviews and articles on her work from Channel 4 News, BBC News, CBS News and press in Wired Magazine, Forbes, PC Mag, CBS TV , Fast Company , Engadget,The Guardian “ It leapfrogs over VR”. Karen is a TED Speaker and has been described as a Thought Leader in A.I, Immersive Storytelling for Impact, Futurism and Tech for a decade. She has been featured in innumerable interviews and events. Previously she received Honorary Mention for the STARTS Prize ARS Electronica for Perception iO, the future of law enforcement. In 2017 her installation 'RIOT' was acknowledged as one of the Digital Dozen Award for break throughs in storytelling. Her Hack the Future Labs created 2020 are Think & Action Tanks at the intersection of Art, Film, Neuroscience Technology, Activism, Social Justice, Spirituality and the Parkour Philosophy of moving through fear.
SRodriguez_Red - Sandra Rodriguez

Disrupting Narratives -Creative XR+ AI as Acts of Resistance by Sandra Rodriguez was live on 03 Nov- 10:00 - 11:00

Sandra Rodriguez
Artist and Director of VR and AI experiences
Sandra Rodriguez, PhD, is a creative director and producer of VR and AI experiences, as well as a sociologist of new media technology. She has worked on feature film, interactive, web-based and immersive non-fiction experiences garnering multiple awards (including a Peabody, IDFA DocLab; Best VR Leipzig, Best VR Numix, best storytelling UNVR, and a prestigious Golden Nica award at Ars Electronica). Her work explores the crossroads of Artificial intelligence, immersive interaction and human creativity. Recent projects include XR live performance, AI-enhanced dance choreographies, multi-user AI games debunking the myths of artificial and human intelligence and large-scale installations questionning data, desires and the pervasiveness of algorithms in our intimate lives. Rodriguez is a Sundance StoryLab Fellow, a Sundance Institute and MacArthur Foundation Non-Fiction stories Grantee. From 2016-2021, she was lead and lecturer of the HackingXR program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT’s first official class on immersive media creation.
FP_profile_Jul_20 (1)

Synthetic Media : A conversation with Francesca Panetta.

Francesca Panetta
Director and Artist
Director of the AKO Storytelling Institute at UAL, Francesca Panetta is an Emmy Award-winning director and artist, recognized as a trailblazer in immersive and experimental storytelling. As an immersive artist and journalist, Francesca employs emerging technologies to forge innovative narratives with significant social impact. She has been a key player as Creative Director in the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality, focusing on flagship pieces that delve into the realms of deepfakes and misinformation. Francesca's impact extends beyond MIT; she spent over a decade at the Guardian, where she pioneered new forms of journalism, from interactive features to location-based augmented reality and virtual reality. Her role as Executive Editor led the Guardian’s in-house VR studio to new heights. Originating from a background in music and radio production, Francesca began her career with experimental features, exploring the transformative power of sound on perception. Her works are celebrated for their highly crafted, layered, and inventive approach. Francesca's accolades span the globe, with critical acclaim, awards the prestigious events like the White House, Tribeca, Cannes, Sundance, and more. A 2019 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, her influence on storytelling is unparalleled.