NONNY DE LA PEÑA…”Godmother of Virtual Reality”
is pushing technological boundaries for narrative endeavors, including exploring 3D environments for fiction, news, and documentary. Called “One of the 13 people who made 2012 more creative” by FastCompany’s CoCreate, she has built more than five virtual reality constructs including Hunger in Los Angeles, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012. Her other projects include the MacArthur funded Gone Gitmo, a virtual Guantanamo Bay Prison; Cap & Trade, an interactive exploration of the carbon markets built with Frontline World and CIR; Ipsress which investigates detainees held in stress positions; and Three Generations, the Games for Change winner on the California eugenics movement. Currently a graduate fellow at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Arts department, she spent the past two years as a Senior Research Fellow in Immersive Journalism at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism and Communications. A graduate of Harvard University, she is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker with twenty years of journalism experience including as a correspondent for Newsweek Magazine and as a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Premiere Magazine, and others. Her films have screened on national television and at theatres in more than fifty cities around the globe, garnering praise from critics like A.O. Scott wrote that her work was “a brave and necessary act of truth-telling.” While at USC, de la Peña is developing sophisticated linear stories in virtual reality that explore the experiential nature of spatial narrative and the feelings of presence that come with the connection to a digital representation of oneself. De la Peña’s other credits include co-founder of Stroome, a collaborative video sharing site which won a Knight News Challenge Grant in 2010.