¡Viva la Evolución!


¡Viva La Evolución! 

a Virtual Reality experience by Fifer Garbesi and VR Playhouse

“You’re sitting on the floor of a cramped loft in Havana, Cuba. The sun streams through a window overlooking a market, and the sounds of chickens clucking and people bartering filters in softly from outside. Inside, it’s a makeshift recording studio complete with turntables, mixers and crates of vintage dance vinyls. Your journey into Cuba’s electronic music underground – a creative retaliation against this country’s isolationism – begins here.

You are soon joined by the godfather of Cuban electronic music, Joyvan Guevara. Guevara keeps the spirit of free parties alive in Cuba, and tonight, he has planned a massive rave. There, you’ll dance ’til dawn as you experience the incredible story of a people perched on the brink of a global culture and the artists leading the way.”

Watch the trailer on Youtube for Gear VR or Cardboard.



WLRN Radio

Mandt VR 



Hosting Cuba’s First Virtual Reality Festival

For over fifty years the US imposed embargo has blocked new technology, culture, and ideas from entering Cuba. The island nation existed in a time capsule of diesel cars, rotary-dial phones, and physical data distribution.

Cubans persevered through ingenuity and masterful hacking. During my first exploration of Havana’s electronic music underground, Joyvan Guevara, the godfather of Cuban electronic music, explained to me that he had been mixing on a two-track cassette until he was gifted a mixing board and vinyls by visiting German DJs.

This got me thinking that I should share Virtual Reality so that Cuban artists could begin to harness this new medium that is still being explored in the States. So during my trip to Havana to shoot ¡Viva la Evolución!, my upcoming VR documentary on Cuban underground raves, I hosted Cuba’s first Virtual Reality festival.

Joyvan spun a hypnotic sunset session as Cuban artists and filmmakers as well as students of the University of Havana, Havana’s Institute of Superior Arts, and NYU Tisch gathered to experience virtual reality for the first time.

Ian Forester from VR Playhouse (the incredible Creative Studio supporting me on ¡Viva!) showed cutting-edge 3D animation and photogrammetry models as well as the studio’s newest collaboration with Dawn Richard.

As night fell over Havana, artists from around the world discussed creating immersive media to transcend the cultural boundaries that have stunted both countries for so long. I’m incredibly excited to see the collaborations and projects that come out of this and to share my documentary with the world this summer.

Agradacimientos to Subpac and WeLens for providing the equipment to make this possible; Ariella Neckritz, Rich Pauwels, and Simone Schulz for running demos, and the Ludwig Foundation for the Arts for their space and support.


Photos by Joyce Lanxin Zhao


Alex Grey Honors Psychedelic Heritage on Bicycle Day

“To me, LSD is a miracle,” American visionary artist Alex Grey shared with
the eager crowd gathered at 1015 Folsom to celebrate Bicycle Day, the anniversary of the fateful day in 1938 when chemist Albert Hofmann became the first human to come in contact with acid in his lab and had a very trippy bicycle ride home. The Human Experience – David BlockMichal MenertRuss Liquid, and GAUDI provided the sound track to this psychedelic evening.

As always, make sure you’re browsing in Chrome for a true 360 experience!


Published for Ripple.co



Silent Disco Invades BART!




An assortment of oddballs gathered under the eaves outside of the Ashby BART station one rainy afternoon.

Donning matching headphones, they followed two rolling trays stacked with laptops and radio transmitters down into the station. When the Fremont bound train arrived, they transformed the car into a silent disco, shimmying around the bemused commuters.

This unique dance party was organized by ZeroDB, a Bay Area based silent disco production company run by the scruffy but adorable Russ Megowan. He started these pop-up discos in 2012 and now organizes one every couple of months.

This trip featured music by DJ Shwung and DJ Joga from Ashby to Fremont and DJ Onhell and DJ Shunicorn on the way back. Switching between different stations, the dancers chose their preferred groove.

“As a DJ, when you’re playing a normal party, everyone is there and you pretty much have their attention,” DJ Shunicorn said. “When you’re playing a Silent Disco and you know there’s another channel, you have to work harder to keep their interest.

“But once you have them engaged and locked in it’s super fun.”


Part dance party, part public art, this strange scene transforms the partygoers into performers on an uncommon stage. But the stares of the other passengers didn’t bother any of the attendees. The power of the music was enough of a distraction.

As Onhell put it, “the outside world doesn’t matter. If you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone.”

Any fears about the silent disco becoming exclusionary melted away early into the ride when older couples, curious about the music, were given headphones. They jammed out for their entire trip, and from their shared smiles I think the experience provided some magic to an otherwise normal commute.

“We always bring extra headphones so that we can let people join in and check it out while they’re on the train. I get to show it to a lot of people who might not have ever heard this kind of music otherwise,” Megowan said with a smile.


Of course, you must be wondering how the authorities respond to this disruption of the norm. A perplexed BART police officer boarded the train and watched for a few minutes trying to figure out what was going on, let alone what he should do about it. He got off at the next station.

Arriving back at Ashby, all of us strangers had become friends, basking in a warm afterglow. We’d shared laughs, dance moves and the nervousness of encountering BART police.


As ZeroDB packed up their gear, I asked Shunicorn what would stick with him from the party.

“There was this one black lady that got on that wasn’t part of the party,” he said. “When she sat down, someone gave her a pair of headphones. When I looked over, she was just blissed out. She was so happy. That’s what it’s all about, sharing music with people.”

ZeroDB will be hosting another silent disco BART party on April 17. https://www.facebook.com/events/805446819587802/

Photos by Kenny Hoff

Article for Ripple.co