Embrace Festival 2021 – Bringing back HXRC events!

Oct 7, 2021

Embrace Festival 2021 is an event that fosters in-depth discussions around the future of immersive art experiences, as well as the first event in Finland focusing on XR art. Embrace Forum opened on the 29th of September and the Embrace Impact Hack-Art-Thon continued from the 30th of September until the 6th of October.

Panelists at Embrace Festival 2021. Photo: Lauri Tiainen.

Photo: Lauri Tiainen

While the pandemic brought things to a halt, the Helsinki XR Center kept on moving forward, moving into a new space and fostering relationships with amazing people in the Finnish XR scene. And now, finally, as our first event in our new space, we were very proud to host the Embrace Festival 2021 – the first event in Finland focusing purely on XR art!

The event opened on the 29th of September with the Embrace Forum and featured faces familiar from our XR Dev Hub. Hanna Pajala-Assefa of Skeleton Conductor fame held a speech called Designing interactivity is Choreography in VR, and Timo Wright from 361 presented Everyday VRealities, documentary in VR. Our own Santeri Suominen also peeked into the future with Why XR? – uncovering future perspectives from the foundations.

Erik Söderblom on a screen at Embrace Festival 2021. Photo: Lauri Tiainen.

Erik Söderblom, Director of Espoo City Theatre, joining in remotely.
Photo: Lauri Tiainen

Guests familiar from Match XR and Match Up also made an appearance, as Steven LaValle from the University of Oulu and Urho Konttori from Varjo took the stage, and Olli Sinerma from Business Finland participated in the round-table discussion on XR art funding and distribution systems. All of the amazing speakers can be found on the Embrace Festival’s speaker section.

The HXRC Showroom was also filled with demo booths for Finnish works of XR art, from documentaries to musical and narrative experiences. You can find the art installations on Embrace Festival’s Line Up.

Testing a VR headset. Photo: Lauri Tiainen.

Testing out Skeleton Conductor in VR.
Photo: Lauri Tiainen


The event then continued with Embrace Impact – a week-long Hack-Art-Thon in which teams were challenged and mentored by Varjo, National Museum of Finland, MAGICS infrastructure and Helsinki XR Center to create an artistic XR experience based on one of three historical themes: Ingeborg who once ruled the Hämeen Linna Castle, Marshal Mannerheim’s childhood in the Louhisaari Manor, or Hämeenlinna County Prison and its notorious prisoner Isoo-Antti.

We are proud that the winners of this challenge featured three students of the Metropolia XR design program, Lotta Veromaa, Pauliina Lahti and Alma Hoque, together with Isra Rab. Their work captured the essence and awesome presence of Ingeborg Tott, the iron lady of Häme Castle in the 1500’s. We are lucky to have the team join our Dev Hub! They also receive a 10 000€ grant and a Varjo headset. Congratulations!

The winning team of Embrace Impact presenting their project on Ingeborg.

Final words

Embrace Festival 2021 was a great kick-off for the new wave of events organised at the Helsinki XR Center. We thank Eero Tiainen, the main organiser of this event, and the whole Embrace team, as well as the volunteers, the speakers, the hack-art-thon teams, and everyone who tuned into the event either live or on stream.

Next up in the HXRC space is Match XR 2021 – we hope to see you there!

Volunteers at Embrace Festival 2021 dabbing. Photo: Lauri Tiainen.

Thank you, volunteers!
Photo: Lauri Tiainen

The audience at Embrace Festival 2021.

Read more about Helsinki XR Center events.

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