Now in its 30th year, SXSW continues to remain true to its founding vision: helping creative people achieve
their goals. Every year, its conferences and festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and
music industries. And every year it draws more and more global professionals and creatives.
Perhaps most importantly for us, SXSW continues to prove that the most unexpected discoveries happen when
diverse topics and people converge.
Because that’s exactly what’s unfolded right here in Belfast over the last few months.
In a really short space of time, ingenuity, innovation and what can only be described as a series of
serendipitous events have conspired to bring together a previously unrelated team of collaborators, who have
spent the last few months putting together an exciting project for SXSW:
RETNE is much more than an interactive short: it’s a complete, creative immersive experience where the
lightness of humour (a Northern Ireland characteristic) belies the sheer volume of complexity, innovation,
ingenuity and effort.
Deepa Mann-Kler is a self-taught and award-winning artist with a strong sense of adventure. Her work has
evolved rapidly across a range of media, from classic oil on canvas through to neon. Right now, she’s working
in her most adventurous medium to date: Virtual Reality.
On a visit to Iceland last year, Deepa was blown away by a VR experience created by the artist Bjork and was
compelled to explore the potential.
Meanwhile, back in Belfast, Luke McNeice, who leads Kainos’ Applied Innovation team, was looking around for an
idea to take to SXSW. This had in turn been inspired by Digital Catapult NI, part of a UK network focused on
supporting pioneering collaborations to accelerate innovation, economic growth and productivity. They were
working with Invest NI to showcase Northern Ireland's digital and immersive technology talent at SXSW.
“Digital Catapult has been the glue for everything, instrumental in facilitating partnerships and how we could
get to talk to the people who could really get the engine going. Without Digital Catapult NI, that glue, this
wouldn’t have come around."
On her return from Iceland, Deepa phoned around, floating her idea with as many people as possible and one
company’s name kept coming up: Kainos.
Of course, serendipity is one thing, but you won’t get far without putting in the hours.
Kainos’ Applied Innovation team has been diligently working at the forefront of technology as it evolves, from
artificial intelligence through immersive technologies to next generation mobile. They’re one of very few
companies working in this way, free to explore what the emerging technology could mean without having any
The RETNE project has been breath-taking in its ambition; which makes it even more impressive. The
collaborative has managed to deliver in a matter of weeks what would previously have been at least a year’s
work, such is the technology and the talent involved.