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Volumetric Performance Toolbox (Valencia James with Thomas Wester, Ben Purdy, Holly Newlands, & Sorob Louie)
Graphic of Valencia James in VR space with tiny icons representing an audience all around.
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
2020, Rapid Response Fellow
Valencia James, Thomas Wester (Glowbox), Ben Purdy (Glowbox), Holly Newlands (Glowbox), Sorob Louie

Volumetric Performance Toolbox is the collaborative project of Valencia James, Glowbox and Sorob Louie, which envisions live online 3D dance performance as a new way for artists to create and perform from their own living spaces and audiences to communally experience art using minimal equipment, during this time of pandemic.

Developed in response to the shuddering effects of Covid-19 on performers worldwide and their ability to connect with live audiences, Volumetric Performance Toolbox offers accessible, user-friendly technology built to empower creators to perform from their own living spaces for a virtual audience. VPT ushers in new possibilities for the creation of an experience of live performance in immersive web environments, while focusing on the creation of a product that requires minimal equipment or previous technical expertise. The toolbox aims to build an expansive community amongst the creators the tool is built for: Movement Artists of all backgrounds, orientations, and abilities, with priority on Black, Indigenous, POC, disabled, and other marginalized communities.

About the Collaborators

Valencia James

Valencia James (she/her) is a Barbadian freelance performer, maker and researcher interested in the intersection between dance, theatre, technology and activism. She believes in the responsibility of artists to reflect socio-political issues and in the power of the arts to inspire change. Since 2013 Valencia has been researching the application of machine learning to dance and how artificial intelligence may change the future of performing arts. She co-founded the AI_am project and in 2015 presented the project at TEDxDanubia, TEDxGöteborg, as well as the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires and the International Symposium of Electronic Art in Vancouver. In 2016 she presented the project at the Gothenburg Science Festival and at Brain Bar Budapest. AI_am premiered their first evening-length work in Budapest and Gothenburg in October 2017. Valencia holds a BA in Modern Dance from the Hungarian Dance Academy and has worked with choreographers such as Ian Douglas, Yvette Bozsik, Zoltan Grecso, Maureen Whiting and Portsha Jefferson. In 2012, Valencia was invited by Wim Vandekeybus to participate in his research program at the world-renown Ultima Vez Dance Company in Brussels. Valencia won the 2014 Viktor Fulop and danceWEB Scholarships, with which she was able to study at the ImpulsTanz Festival in Vienna that year. She has performed widely in Hungary, Romania, France, Israel, Sweden, Argentina, and Canada. After a decade in Hungary, Valencia is now based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Her work will be supported by the expertise of creative technologists Thomas Wester, Ben Purdy and Sorob Louie.

Thomas Wester

Thomas Wester (he/him, Glowbox) is a researcher that directs, designs and develops experiences that blend physical and digital. Wester’s inventive use of technology creates a space for design and story to thrive, resulting in compelling experiences that educate, delight and transform

Wester’s work incorporates the latest technology, breaching the invisible lines between disciplines and aiming towards experiences that feel entirely new, while staying informed of the past and learning from it. There is nourishment in the history of experiments and achievements, why they worked or what caused their missteps. And this can fuel our steps for tomorrow. 

For more than fifteen years, Wester has worked in the creative services as a practitioner, entrepreneur, strategist and leader, continually rediscovering how the innovative use of technology in the design process can increase the creative potential of a team.

From 2016 to the present, he has delved into independent research and consulting in the evolution of design, technology and art seen through the lens of mixed reality (AR/VR/MR). He premiered the first mixed reality experience at Sundance, led an artist research residency in collaboration with Eyebeam NYC and created an immersive theatrical experience for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Before 2016, Wester elevated the art of storytelling with Second Story. He went through three distinct career phases, most recently as Executive Technical Director, and established the integrated design and technology practice, creating a culture of curiosity, exploration and collaboration between design and tech which resulted in widely recognized, lasting and award winning projects.

Wester was born in The Netherlands, raised in Papua New Guinea, and went on to live and work in Utrecht, Amsterdam, London and Portland. 

Ben Purdy, he/him (Glowbox)

Holly Newlands

Holly Newlands (she/they, formerly Glowbox) is an artist and developer who makes games and other playful experiences. Their work has been exhibited at shows including Currents Virtual, A MAZE. BERLIN, Indiecade, XOXO, and Sundance’s New Frontiers. Holly graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Art and Technology. They currently work as a freelance game developer from their home studio in Portland, Oregon.

Sorob Louie

Sorob Louie (he/him, VirtuLabs) founded Virtu Labs, a creative and technical innovation lab producing unique software and media for interactive experiences. Louie’s diverse background in electronics and interactive programming fused with a strong interest in emerging technologies guides his passion for creating experiences that explore the possibilities of communication.


Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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