This Former Burning Man Creative Built A Unique Online 3D Platform To Help Us Virtually Bond
Jeryl Brunner Contributor
Sometimes we have to step out of what we know and take a big leap. As Albert Einstein once wrote, “A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it is built for.”
Take Ana Constantino. During the pandemic Constantino went from designing large scale installations for The Windmill Factory, (and was formally the first regional contact for Burning Man Latin America), to launching Nowhere. The new socializing and events online platform nurtures face-to-face intimacy while using innovative 3D landscapes.
Constantino began her career in both New York and her native Rio. Fascinated by the intersection of art, technology and new media, she led projects involving all these mediums. She specialized in bringing creative concepts into implementation on a grand scale. Always one to challenge herself, she helped launch an animation festival that was projected on a water screen in the middle of a lake
Her artistic visions were intensified when she met theater artist Jon Morris who explored ideas around the creation of public art. In 2009, their large scale installation slide, “The Wedge,” which they did for Burning Man, cemented their reputation as the creators of epic and interactive pieces at Burning Man. They ultimately expanded their creative partnership bringing sublime art installations to public spaces and established the arts collective, The Windmill Factory.
“Nowhere fosters opportunities for people to experience something unexpected together and creates space for serendipity to happen.” Ana Constantino
Through Nowhere Constantino and her team hope to create a more intimate life-like connection in an ever-growing online world. One recent Nowhere event was held on a virtual Brooklyn rooftop. Mason Granger, whose poem was performed during the Golden Globes, recited a recent work. Lauren Elder, a Broadway performer and champion whistler sang. With the 3D technology the idea is to replicate the experience of being at a live event as you navigate around in a nonagon-shaped pod.
“There are many different environments to discover,” says Constantino. Guests can watch a show in a black box theater, host a meeting in the clouds or discover secret rooms.
Using live face-to-face interaction every Thursday Nowhere has comedy, music and an open-mic. Participants can listen to performers while networking a room the very same way they would in real life or even even have a private conversation in a stained-glass water tower or moss-covered library. The free event starts at 8:07 pm on Thursdays.
As Constantino explains one person who visited Nowhere said it felt he was attending a party for the first time in over a year. “Doing something you love while having a great experience, in a situation that previously would fall flat when transferred online, is what we're creating,” says Constantino. “Nowhere fosters opportunities for people to experience something unexpected together and creates space for serendipity to happen.”
Jeryl Brunner: What would you like people to know about Nowhere?
Ana Constantino: In our quest for the sublime, Nowhere is our take on how life can be exciting and feel like you're having authentic experiences with others while being social online. The platform integrates live video feed from each participant into pods that are free to navigate through fantastic 3D environments. The audio is spatialized, which supports the perception of depth of space.
Brunner: How does Nowhere work?
Constantino: People are free to move around, discover hidden fun spaces, bump into friends, engage in conversations, watch live performances, talks, participate in workshops, all while feeling present with others. We believe that spaces dictate behavior, and that collective experiences are essential for the creation and nourishment of strong communities. We're creating Nowhere very carefully and with a lot of attention to details as we want to create a healthy space that inspires and deepens relationships even when people aren't physically together. We believe that presence is larger than place and with every design decision, we hope to support genuine human connection.
Brunner: What is your vision for the experience?
Constantino: I hope that Nowhere becomes a platform where people feel inspired to play and have meaningful collective experiences. We want to create a healthy social space that allows for serendipity and opens the opportunity for people to feel genuinely present with others, even when physically apart.
Brunner: Can you share more about partnering with artists in the Nowhere Founding Community?
Constantino: We're selectively opening to creators to be able to host in Nowhere and have access to exclusive activities. People can apply to have a chance to participate at www.urnowhere.com.
Brunner: So many people have a creative idea that they want to birth to life, but don't have the confidence or resources. What would you advise?
Constantino: Dream big, then break it into smaller pieces, so you know from where to begin. Don't wait for permission or for the perfect condition to arrive. Be generous, open to collaborations, participate in a community and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.