Spatial Cinema Studio
with Recombinant Media Labs

The Spatial Cinema Studio, organized by Gray Area and Recombinant Media Labs, convenes cohorts of multimedia artists pushing the parameters of narrative form to craft new audiovisual compositions for the RML CineChamber, a 360-degree cinematic environment that has pioneered provocative immersive media for nearly three decades.

Selected project proposals explore the expressive potential of new media technologies, from mixed reality and virtual worldbuilding to artificial intelligence, and how their transformations in a multi-sensory spatial context can manifest novel ways of telling and experiencing stories. These works adapt dynamic structures enabling contoured modes for divergent, concurrent narratives that articulate a fresher, multifaceted emphasis on story building architectures. Following an iterative development approach through workshops and technical support, the studio's cohort will showcase their final compositions-in-progress with public performances and screenings in the CineChamber apparatus.

Current Spatial Cinema Studio Cohort


Victoria Shen is an experimental music performer and sound artist from San Francisco. Though analog synthesizers are the backbone of Shen’s music, while performing live, she also plays self-made electronics, invented instruments, and even acoustic objects like a bull whip. Shen is a markedly mobile performer that muddles the boundaries between performer and audience, stage and floor. Her sets tend to be site-specific, in direct response to the physical and acoustic qualities of the space in which she performs. Her live show vacillates between moments of restraint and swells of frenetic and confrontational movement. A tightrope walk between control and chance, the whiff of danger is never far during Shen’s performances. Her sound is dynamic with a sensitivity to texture and structure throughout.

Eric Hanson

Eric Hanson is a faculty member at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, and CEO of Blueplanet VR. With a background in design, architecture, photography, and feature film visual effects, Eric currently creates volumetric VR experiential content spanning landscape, natural history, and cultural heritage. His VFX work can be seen in “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Cast Away”, “Fantasia 2000”, and “The Fifth Element”, among others. Recent work has led to collaborations with The Dunhaung Foundation, Frontline/ PBS, Björk, Ai Weiwei, and the Onward Project. At USC he leads curriculum in Cinematic VR and Visual Effects, but mostly wishes he could sleep more.

Masako Tanaka

Tanaka started designing contents for the 10ch surround video platform since Recombinant Media Labs launched the CineChamber system in SF for the first  time in 2005.
Using the musical sound sources as the focused guiding force, Masa has been generating and placing powerful imagery in the multi-channel formats, striking for spectator engagements to optically experience the original sounds. The consequence of each project is to generate systems which evince a kind of swarming or organized chaos.
The process begins by combining simple and granulated visual assets by certain rules, building up layers of those groups following specific orders and systematizing them. Then repeating that process until the order begins to manifest destabilized chaotic characteristics.

Bonnie Banks

Bonnie Banks, a ubiquitous and mysterious force in the visual and sonic art world for over three decades, is known for his influential and enigmatic style. Banks’s paintings and drawings range in scale from playing card sizes to expansive grand theater backdrops. His meticulous attention to detail is a vibrant tapestry of visuals, oscillating between vivid, explosive colors and stark, futuristic monochromes. These boundary blending creations of the familiar and fantastical act as gateways to surreal elemental scenes like cities constructed from recycled stereo components, ancient vessels navigating perilous rapids, blueprints of futuristic machines, and visions of hybridized species.

Herman Kolgen

Internationally renowned, multifaceted multimedia artist Herman Kolgen has been modeling sumptuous ‘audiocinetic’ sculptures for over twenty years. The Montréal, Canada-based sight and sound virtuoso continually hatches new conceptual approaches to celebrate the powerful synergy (and intimacy) at the heart of his audiovisual works. His installation and performance pieces boast a hybrid technical language and a singular and bold aesthetic, sitting at the juncture of many artistic practices. From 1996 to 2008, Kolgen dedicated the majority of his immersive practice to the audiovisual Skoltz_Kolgen duo, performing at prestigious international events such as Berlin’s Transmediale, the Venice Biennale, Austria’s Ars Electronica, and multiple appearances at MUTEK. The impact of territories on human life lies at the heart of his conceptual pursuits. His multifaceted work is characterized by a radiographic approach. It’s this x-ray effect, with its immaterial quality, that allows the invisible to be perceived. Initially associated with the digital and electronic realms across an assortment of highly sensitive works. His approach then takes a sharp turn towards increasingly hybridized forms. His installation practice also integrates an important spatialization component, most notably regarding the field of sound. The design and application of random systems of auto-generative image/sound also allow for the creation of audiophonic spaces marked by their immersive quality. Though his projects have conceptual concerns they all remain physically tangible, pushing sonic boundaries into resonant reactive body vibration principalities and their attachments to visual phenomena playing on notions of physical, cerebral and emotional tensities. Herman Kolgen’s works have most notably been presented at the Venice Biennale, Ars Electronica, Berlin’s Transmediale, ISEA, the Centre Georges Pompidou, International Digital Arts Montreal and Paris, Sonic-Acts, London BFI, Arsenal Art Contemporain, Dissonanze, Mutek, Elektra, Sonar, Tapei digital arts and Shanghai E-arts. He has also performed with Paris ensemble Intercontemporain and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Herman Kolgen has been awarded many prestigious prizes, including Ars Electronica, qwartz and the New York and Los Angeles independent film festivals’ best experimental category. He received several grants from the city of Montreal, from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Quebec Council for the Arts and from Arcadi France to help materialize his works.

People Like Us

Under the name “People Like Us,” artist Vicki Bennett has been making work available via CD, DVD and vinyl releases, radio broadcasts, concert appearances, gallery exhibits, 360 immersive installations and online streaming and distribution since 1992. Using collage as a compositional tool, Vicki Bennett opens up endless opportunities to experience results that are more than the sum of the parts. As a solo artist or collaborator Vicki has published more than 40 video projects and 50 audio recordings, with works released by labels including Illegal Art, Rough Trade, Soleilmoon Recordings, Discrepant, Sonic Arts Network and Touch. Vicki’s DO or DIY show on the fiercely independent New York City-market radio station WFMU has run since 2003. Her video work has been screened at Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, BFI, Purcell Room, Barbican, ICA, V&A. Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Sonar (Barcelona), MAXXI/National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico City), among other institutions. Video works have been aired on Channel 4 and radio sessions created for John Peel and Mixing It. People Like Us has been commissioned by Arts Council England, Barbican, Attenborough Centre (ACCA), The BBC, WDR, Deutschlandradio, PRSF, a-n, Great North Run, Sound and Music, Channel 4/Animate Projects, AV Festival, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Recombinant Media Labs (RML), Sonic Arts Network, Forma, LUX and Lovebytes.

About RML Cinechamber

The RML CineChamber Initiative is ever engaged with the evolving frontier of immersive, multisensory technologies, aiming to reduce barriers to entry and expand the creative possibilities afforded by these emerging media. Learning to compose for surround AV environments both artistically and technically demands cutting-edge skill sets that occasionally pose challenges for artists, including those with backgrounds historically excluded from access to emerging technology. Moreover, the prevalent AR and VR components utilized in spatial cinema most easily lend themselves to individual user experiences, thus limiting simultaneous viewing engagement and social interaction within these narratives. The rapid pace of technological advancement also risks rendering works based on XR technology potentially obsolete in a few years, sometimes limiting their active exhibition lifespan.

To mitigate these challenges, the RML CineChamber platform strives to establish a more standardized and mobile format for manifesting, premiering and touring surround cinema works to live audiences. Consisting of 10 HD screens arranged in a rectangular configuration together with an 8.2 channel surround sound system, the CineChamber is a floating panoramic rectangle viewable on both sides of the suspended movie surfaces. This technical configuration is transportable, allowing works to be presented at exhibitions and festivals, and offering artists broader exposure to spectators worldwide.

With the support of an NEA grant in 2014, Gray Area installed the necessary infrastructure for the system in the Grand Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District, enabling localized annual festivals of nearly 30 years of archived material. Curated by Recombinant Artistic Director Naut Humon, the CineChamber already has hosted over 60 works developed by internationally recognized artists. While the current repertoire predominantly features a wide span of primarily European artists exploring digital abstraction and collage, the Spatial Cinema Studio aims to additionally empower an expanded generation of current and classic artists from the Americas and abroad adapting a "VR mindset without the headset” frame of reference for the refraction of dominant narrative forms through panoramic polyphony.

Naut Humon

Naut Humon, artistic director and founder of Recombinant Media Labs, is a curator, conductor and creator of the Surround Traffic Control system: the aural optic incubator that gave birth to today's CineChamber apparatus. He has been active in staging events that blur the roles of audience and participant for four decades. A former student of Morton Subotnick in the seventies, Humon presented ‘destabilized’ media occurrences designed to repurpose the visitor’s frame of reference from the prevailing performance proximities of the day. He was head of Artist development for San Francisco based Asphodel records and helped coordinate the Digital Music category at the ARS Electronica Festival for ten years. Along with his own electroacoustic excursions and expeditions, Naut Humon has collaborated with many artists and musicians of numerous influences, disciplines and styles over the years and was the figurehead of the former Industrial ambient group Rhythm & Noise.

Recombinant Media Labs

The Recombinant Media Labs organization was founded to research the qualities and artistic potential of Spatial Cinema. It does so by means of Experiential Engineering; exploring processes that propagate the aesthetic and technological boundaries of panoramic AV exhibition. RML acts as producer and presenter of hybrid artworks and performance archiving based on spatial media synthesis; intermodal works using image, light, sound and other disseminated media in three-dimensional space. The CineChamber is RML's curated, nomadic platform under the artistic trajectory of founder & Director Naut Humon plus a superhuman crew.