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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Alternate Realities

Thu. 23 June 2022 — Tue. 28 June 2022

Free entry

A TikTok War


Step into the lives of others and explore documentaries in entirely new ways at DocFest's Alternate Realities exhibition.

Alternate Realities features innovative, immersive and interactive works of non-fiction storytelling. It includes virtual reality experiences, digital games, and short films drawing on artificial intelligence. It's all about taking you into other people's worlds and making you part of their stories in imaginative ways, through the latest technology.

The main Alternate Realities venue for 2022 is Site Gallery (booking advised), while the Studio within Site Gallery will be a space for rest with artworks that encourage wellbeing. Other Alternate Realities venues include the Workstation, which will host a virtual reality library. There'll also be immersive individual works at Sheffield Hallam Performance Lab, Sheffield Town Hall, the brand new Events Central, and arts space The Kurious within Kommune food hall.

Read on for our highlights of some of the works on show as part of Alternate Realities 2022. And see our Sheffield DocFest picks for our guide to the films in the wider festival programme.

Site Gallery

  • A TikTok War
    The Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, and now the invasion of Ukraine – the world is viewing conflict with startling intimacy on social media. A TikTok War shows how users of the platform are chronicling events and their outcomes in Ukraine.
  • Safe Space
    Safe Space edits together footage of ballroom culture from the time of the AIDS epidemic in 1990s New York, when it was a form of resistance for trans and queer people of colour. The film is overlaid with contemporary statements from LGBTQIA+ refugees sourced from the internet and voiced by an AI.
  • Gondwana
    Roam the world’s oldest tropical rainforest in this VR project. Gondwana simulates a hundred years of climate change impact in Australia’s ancient Daintree rainforest, as the awe-inspiring ecosystem degrades over the course of the exhibition in line with real-world climate data projections.
  • OnlyBans
    A digital game examining the online policing of sex workers and marginalised bodies, created by a team of sex workers and allies.

Site Studio


Kubo Walks The City

The Workstation

  • Monoliths
    An exploration of the English landscape through the eyes of three northern women, mixed with soundscapes of real locations in the north of England. Part of the virtual reality library, open 11am–8pm with hour-long slots – booking advised.

The Kurious at Kommune

  • Kubo Walks the City
    Stroll a beautifully illustrated 3D version of 1930s Seoul in this full room installation. You'll follow in the footsteps of Kubo, a troubled writer trying to get inspiration among the crowds – a character created nearly a hundred years ago by Korean modernist writer Taewon. Book in advance.

Sheffield Hallam University Performance Lab

  • The Sound Voice Project
    Composer Hannah Conway has worked with medical professionals and people who experienced voice loss to create this powerful performance installation. It celebrates the beauty and value of the human voice, as well as featuring digital and synthetic voices.

Sheffield Town Hall

  • The Acquisition Panel
    Join a fictional committee of 12 people for two hours to collectively decide if a controversial colonial object will be allowed into a local museum. This interactive artwork explores the legacies of European colonialism and who gets to choose the stories we tell. 26 and 27 June only – advance booking essential.

Access Space at Events Central

  • Escaping Gravity
    An immersive installation inspired by the story of Britain’s Imperial Airship programme, whose wild ambition went into the making of the R.101 airship that crashed in 1930, killing 48. Using archive footage and merging real and imagined worlds, this artwork reveals the human desire for progress, adventure and the unknown.

See the full Alternate Realities 2022 programme for more.

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