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Phi Centre's main exhibition this summer offers an intimate conversation between human body and machine

MONTREAL.- The Phi Centre opened >HUM(AI)N, an exhibition in nine movements that is part meditation, part shock piece on a rapidly approaching reality where the separation between man and machines is no more. Grab a front-row seat for a glimpse of this fascinating future.

Human or demi-god?
With the rise of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, biotech, and their effects on human evolution, we are closer than ever to becoming demi-gods, masters of our own destiny. But the question now is what does it mean to be human or more than human?

The new exhibition at the Phi Centre plunges visitors into a futuristic cultural experience where humans are inseparable from the works, not as heroes at the controls but as catalysts of the experience through virtual reality, interactive avatars, and artificial intelligence that is constantly learning. Activated by body movement, engaging the hearts and minds of the audience, the works presented blur the line between human and machine while appealing to our senses that are enhanced, modified and shaped by technology. Even the exhibition layout—including a gigantic "heart" set in the very centre of the space—unabashedly points to the mighty machinery that makes all these innovations possible. Welcome to the future.

We Could Be Human: A Learning Machine, created by Reimagine AI with the support of iLLOGIKA, MILA and the Canada Media Fund
In this world premiere you’ll meet Ophelia, a digital being who calls you by your first name when she answers your questions, thanks to facial recognition. An unforgettable interactive encounter with a source of artificial intelligence that learns as it goes, drawing on its curiosity about climate change, poetry, and human nature.

Vast Body, directed by Vincent Morisset, produced by AATOAA
Flap your arms, flip your head, twist and turn however you like, and see if you can stump Vast Body, an artificial neural network trained to recognize, learn, and copy movement it sees. Your digital alter ego (played by Louise Lecavalier, Rachel Harris and Caroline Robert) will try to replicate your upper-body movements in real time. Don’t miss the North American premiere of this fascinating kinetic experience.

Algorithmic Perfumery, created by Frederik Duerinck, in collaboration with Mark Meeuwenoord and Vincent Soffers
What if everyone could have their own personal scent? That is the premise of this one-of-a-kind olfactory experience presented as a Canadian premiere. Stimulate the creative capabilities of this early-stage robotic perfume maker and get a fragrance that will fit you like a glove. And who knows, maybe by helping improve this AI you’ll play a role in the future of the fragrance industry!

Das Totale Tanz Theater, directed by Maya Puig, Patrik de Jong and Dirk Hoffmann, produced by Diana Schniedermeier
Bauhaus artists dreamed of a theatrical form that would deliver the audience from its passive state and thrust it right into the action on stage. That dream has come true with Das Totale Tanz Theater, a virtual reality film that artfully combines dance and geometry. Dare to try this four-person movement experience that draws on multiple forms of art. How much can you really interact with space and the machine?

Emergence, directed by Matt Pyke, developped by Chris Mullany, produced by Greg Povey
How can you maintain your identity when you disappear in the crowd? Drawing on this fundamentally human paradox, Emergence promises a 360-degree performative experience where the visitor interaction reveals elaborate patterns of human behaviour at a huge scale. Each of the thousands of characters is programmed to react a certain way—avoiding, following, or mimicking your movements. Get lost in the crowd like never before.

Ayahuasca (Kosmik Journey), directed by Jan Kounen, produced by Atlas V, a_BAHN and Small
Ayahuasca is a drug from the Amazon made of roots known to induce powerful visual hallucinations. Ayahuasca recreates the drug’s potential effects in a kaleidoscopic visual experience. Discover an alternate reality, a world where plants regain their powers, led by indigenous Shipibo traditional healer. Switch back and forth from one perspective to another—the immersion begins right in the physical space, well before you put on your headset. A unique and disorienting experience that pushes the boundaries of virtual reality even further than before.

BattleScar, created by Nico Casavecchia and Martin Allais, produced by Atlas V, 1stAveMachine and Fauns, in collaboration with ARTE France and Kaleidoscope
Slip inside New York City’s 1970s punk scene in this virtual reality animated film. A winner of multiple awards for its visual quality, it immerses you in a not-so-distant musical past as you follow a Puerto Rican teen’s search for her identity. A compelling feminist coming-of-age story that will give you the feels like you were actually there.

7 Lives, directed by Jan Kounen, written by Charles Ayats and Sabrina Calvo, with music by Franck Weber
A subway platform in Tokyo. A near-death experience. A secret foray into the fears and memories of the passengers around you. Slip into their minds and help them find peace. Combining real-life 3D shots with CGI, 7 Lives offers interactive sequences right in the film to help you navigate the experience of this invisible everyday universe.

Gymnasia, directed by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, produced by the National Film Board of Canada and Felix & Paul Studios
A disturbing yet hypnotic dream sequence produced by Felix & Paul Studios. More than just virtual reality, Gymnasia is a cinematic experience like no other, combining 3D video, 360-degree video, stop-motion animation, miniatures, and computer-generated imaging. The film pushes the art of puppet animation to its limits, stirring up the oppressive anxiety that inhabits the line between real and unreal. Do you have the nerve?

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