Two projects by the Visual Narrative Lab in the competitions of the 36th IDFA International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam!

Close, and The School, a World, two projects produced by vnLab in 2023, have been recognized with nominations at the world’s largest festival dedicated to documentary art, IDFA 2023.

Close, a Japanese dance-based VR experience by Hana Umeda, was among the projects selected to participate in the IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction. In this category, dedicated to works made for AR, VR and Mixed Reality technology, Close will compete against 12 other projects for a prize worth 5,000 euros. The international jury includes Arnaud Colinart, Jessica Brillhart and Joy Mawela.

Meanwhile, the interactive documentary The School, a World, directed by Iga Lapinska, is competing in the IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction category alongside 9 other digital projects. The grand prize awarded by an international jury consisting of Jay Kim, Miri Chekhanovich and Zuraida Buterjest amounts to 5,000 euros.

The festival will run from November 8 to 19, when the winners of the various competition categories will be announced.


For more information, see:

Publab — toward a standard for web publications

the future of reading

We believe that web publishing is the future of both reading and visual literacy. At the vnLab Interactive Narratives Studio we have been working on a set of tools that would allow us to create contemporary digital publications in the full sense of the word. We see value in combining the traditional model of binding content (giving it coherence through the common “frame,” of an autonomous publication) with the accessibility, addressability and interconnectedness of the Internet.

PubLab an attempt to create not only an efficient, green and future-oriented technology stack, but also a contemporary, sensousous reading experience. Thus, it is as much about technology as it is about UX and design. We put all our designs through tests to see how our proposed solutions interact with the audience, whether they seem readable to them, and whether they interfere with reading immersion. The quality of the graphic design is key for us.

what is PubLab?

PubLab is a toolset – not a platform – to enable the creation of web publications, as defined by the W3C.

what is a web publication?

A web publication is a set of content organized into a whole that can be read through a standard web browser.
According to the definition formulated by the W3C, such publications:

  • take full advantage of the capabilities of the Open Web Platform (the Internet)
  • can operate both online and offline
  • can comply with accessibility rules
  • can be linked to other content on the Internet
  • can be annotated / commented on

why web publications in the first place?

Today, a digital publication in the established form of an e-book (in EPUB and derivative formats) is different from a website – both ideologically and technologically. It follows the idea of book as object that can be put on shelf rather than the ideas, and possibilities, of the Open Web Platform. From the point of view of the publishing industry this makes sense, because it only slightly shifts the way business is done, but from both the reader’s and creator’s perspective it produces a set of serious constraints:

  • e-pubs need separate apps to read the publications, creating additional complexity – you have to research and choose your app: which one feels best, which can synchronize your notes across devices (and not many can), and when you have chosen, you are effectively locked to the application (because there is no way to transfer your highlights and notes between apps). What is more, many applications are bound to a specific class of devices, or worse – to devices of one specific vendor.
  • the reading experience of these “books” cannot be designed, because it is the app that decides on the reading experience – as a result, all digital books look the same, which is frustrating both for readers (boredom!), and for designers, because today’s web allows for fantastic control of typography & layout.
  • e-books can’t take advantage of the possibilities of the contemporary web: audiovisual content, advanced interactions, custom audio (i.e. audiobook functionality)

reading is a sensuous experience

All those who emphasize that it is important for them to read a book in its printed form emphasize the sensousness of the reading experience. This sensouousness is related to the texture and smell of the paper, typeface, graphic design, etc. None of this is provided by modern digital publications.

More so, reading today is multimodal: we read – often the same thing – on different devices, in different contexts: in the bus we read on our smartphone, at home we might switch to a tablet, and look up videos while discovering new contexts, while in the car we change to an audiobook format, etc. The question that arises is not only about what an optimal digital reading experience is today, but also how reading itself is changing as a result of the impact of the internet.

The challenge is to find a form of reading experience that would be relevant to contemporary ways of interacting with cultural content. Which, in turn, is increasingly hybrid, less text-dependent.

This is why, at least as we understand it, the W3C defines web publishing as “a vision of the future of digital publishing.”

our stack

  • our publications are progressive web apps (PWA)
  • these apps are in fact static web pages – they are composed of pure html + css, with an addition of javascript
  • at the stage of preparation of the publication, we separate form and content: we treat the content of the book as its source code, which we “compile” with our tools into the final form of the book
  • the content marked up with the markdown language is our source code – we are working on extending the syntax to include multimedia elements (images, sliders, galleries, video, objects, embeds)
  • using an external API – Hypothesis – we were able to add device-agnostic annotation features to our stack. Hypothesis is not yet ready for the general user, but it is the most developed web annotation tool available today

It is necessary not only to comply with the W3C guidelines or to be aware of similar projects, but above all to take advantage of the developing infrastructure for metadata exchange that is necessary for this new type of publication to find its way into library catalogs and their search engines. Here a key reference point is COPIM and their projects, such as the Thoth metadata exchange system or the work of the Open Book Collective. -> ?

our benchmark publications

further PubLab publications, as well as experimental publication formats produced by the vnLab, are on the way!

the PubLab Collective

In November and December 2022, we organized a public seminar, “Digital Publications Today”, dedicated to web publications at the Krytyka Polityczna think tank in Warsaw, Poland. Out of the seminar, the PubLab Collective arose. Contact us if you are interested!

The School, a world – interactive observation document

S?awek runs through the fields with a metal detector. Marzena is browsing Facebook in the barn. Adam with a bending barbell breaks the world record in weightlifting. Only cows still go to school. Where? In Chlebiotki, a small village in Poland.

Barely 60 people live here. On Sunday they go to church and during the week everyone does their own thing. Houses are rimmed with thuyas to ward off neighbours. In the evenings everyone is online. Dreaming of something different. There is an empty building in the village. It used to be a school, built by a community effort. But there are almost no children in the village anymore. So Wojtek bought the run-down school and for 8 years has been trying to turn it into a business, with no success so far.

“The School, a World” is an interactive documentary based on observation, annoyance and love. Each chapter is devoted to one of 8 characters. The immersive sound leads the narration. The film’s director grew up in the village. The school was her home. She returned after 20 years to seek traces of her past and found a whole, complete world.


Iga ?api?ska – director. She is involved in documentary, oral history, editing and self-promotion in TV film channels. She wanted to be a scientist, which is why she studied Polish philology and film studies, but she much prefers practice to theory. For the Stopklatka TV channel, she has conceived and produced programmes about cinema such as „Prywatna historia kina”, „100 kultowych filmów”, „Ja tu tylko ogl?dam” and „8 i pó? filmu”. She directed the 6-part web documentary ‘Krótki kurs kultury romskiej’. With Ewa Jarosz, she invented an instagram educational series for young people entitled. “Nina_innahistoria” – about a teenage girl in a Polish-Jewish town before World War II (main prize in the O?rodek KARTA film hackathon; project not yet realised). Until the age of fifteen, she lived in Chlebiotki, a small village in Podlasie. She talks about it in the documentary ‘The School, a world’, which is her interactive debut.

Ewa Jarosz – project manager, historian, Judaist, activist associated with the food cooperative movement. Graduate of the Jagiellonian University, University of Southampton and the Tischner European University. Enthusiast and practitioner of community management of common goods, interested in the history of grassroots social action during the communist period. For ‘The School, a World’ project, she co-created the concept, interactive narrative, archival layer and editorial.

The project was financed under the Ministry of Education and Science programme within the framework of the “Regional Initiative of Excellence” for the years 2019-2023, project number 023/RID/2018/19, funding sum PLN 11 865?100

Interactive Narratives and Essay Film Studio at 39. Kasseler Dokfest

During Kasseler DokFest, we will present the activities of our two Studios.

The Interactive Narratives, Digital Scientific Publications and UX Studio is dedicated to the study and development of new forms of narratives aris- ing from the use of digital interactive technologies in documentary film and related forms such as film essay. The Studio was founded on observation of transformations in the area of in 21st century doc- umentary which became a field of experimenta- tion with audiovisual language and creating new models of narration as well as a place where film meets with other media: photography, literature, animated film or computer games. In the result of diverse experimentation within the documen- tary, media and digital technology, interactive documentary forms evolved. These constantly question and shift traditional roles of the author and the viewer. According to the Studio composing viewer’s emotional engagement in the interactive form demands not only good storytelling but also creating the whole new world to explore. This re- quires working in a brand-new environment which include interface and user experience designers as well as coders and creative technologists. The Studio will present excerpts from the interactive narratives produced in the studio and a fragment of the i-doc SCHOOL, THE WORLD SCHOOL, THE WORLD by Iga ?apin?ska and Ewa Jarosz – the larg- est production of the Studio so far.

The aim of the Essay Film Studio is to radically expand the research workshop, to develop new methods and new forms of thinking – thinking with images, sound and editing. It is an attempt to reinvent the form of the film essay by drawing on contemporary forms of audiovisual communi- cation, the genres, languages and conventions of contemporary cinema and the Internet. As part of the Essay Film Studio, this year a first series of workshops was organized, led by the world’s foremost experts in the field of essay film, includ- ing Laura Mulvey, Mike Bal, Cathrine Grant, Kevin B. Lee, Chloe? Galibert-Lai?ne?, Assaf Gruber, Eyal Sivan and in which selected participants from all over the world could work on their projects. As a result, the Essay Film Studio now serves as the production home for several essay film projects, including the award-winning film “Subtotals” by Mohammadreza Farzad, Mike Bal’s “It’s About Time! Reflections of Urgency” and, yet to pre- miere, “Solaris mon amour” by Kuba Mikurda. The participants of the seminar were also asked to contribute an anthology about the method, in which the gestures of many essayists are ana- lyzed. During the session representatives of the Essay Film Studio will present excerpts of the film projects and take part in a panel discussion about making and producing essay film as an epistemic practice. The films produced by Essay Film Studio are subsequently presented at festivals.

November 19

39th Kasseler Dokfest

1:30 pm

For more information follow the link.

Results of the vnLab Interactive Narrative Studio competition for 2021!

On April 26, 2021 the vnLab jury composed of:

Andrzej Sapija, Krzysztof Pijarski, Magdalena Soboci?ska, Paulina Borkiewicz, Katarzyna Boratyn

settled the competition for participation in the artistic and research program of the vnLab Interactive Narration and UX Studio. Krzysztof Franek, Katarzyna M?ka-Malaty?ska and Kuba Mikurda also participated in the evaluation of the applications. Andrzej Sapija was invited to participate in the work of the jury in place of Piotr Mikucki; Professor Sapija’s voice proved invaluable in the discussion on the applications, for which we would like to thank him.

Interactive Narrative Workshop 

Szko?a ?wiat – the team represented by Ewa Jarosz
Zarastanie– the DIGIART team (Angelika Cebula, Jakub Ciosi?ski, Kinga Bo?kiewicz, Sebastian Duran, Iga Filimowska, Adam Grygierzec, Mateusz Brzezicki, Jakub Gad)
Krajobrazy ?rodka – Marta Zgierska
Cicer cum Caule – Anna Desponds
Internet platform for the online presentation of exhibitions by foreign artists living in Poland – ZA*Grupa (Vera Zalutskaya, Yuriy Biley, Yulia Krivich), * foreign artists living in Poland.


It is worth emphasizing that this year the level of applications was extremely high, which made the members of the jury face a real challenge. For this reason, honorable mentions were also awarded to the following two projects:


Inhibitor – Wojciech Olchowski
51% – silent voice of the majority – Karolina ?migiel / UNI-SOLO Studio


The Interactive Narrative Studio team will make every effort to support the development of these projects.

We would like to thank the members of the Artistic Council for their participation in the Jury’s deliberations.

We congratulate all the contestants and look forward to working with the teams accepted to the Studio.

Thank you!

The vnLab Interactive Narrative and UX Studio Team

Chapter 1: Why social pictures?

In this interview with Nathan Jurgenson, we open the first of eight chapters of the project. Nathan Jurgenson is a social media theorist and author of the acclaimed book “The Social Photo: On photography and social media,” which will be released in Poland this fall. In the following weeks, Marta Zió?ek, Karol Radziszewski and Miros?aw Filiciak, among others, will present their commentary in the form of artwork, gesture or text.

We invite you to watch a teaser of this conversation:

The entire conversation as well as subsequent chapters and installments of the project will be published on a dedicated website.


Why pictures? – art and research project

The Laboratory of Interactive Narratives and UX at vnLab in collaboration with Krytyka Polityczna, Jasna 10, Krakow Photomonth and Widok magazine. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture are launching a long-term artistic and research project entitled Why pictures?

Its initiators and curators, Witek Orski and Krzysztof Pijarski, together with contemporary theoreticians and practitioners, will look at the global republic of images, searching for the democratic and communal potential of photography.

We are interested in the reflection on the contemporary status and circulation of images, as well as – or perhaps above all – their causality, texture, and life. The whole project is divided into chapters – within each chapter we would like to initiate an artistic and intellectual exchange, which will consist of reactions to the opening conversation and to statements and gestures of predecessors and predecessors.

Subsequent chapters and episodes of the project will be published on a dedicated website.



Makeshift is a documentary project about Bosnia and Herzegovina, about the recent war and the processes of rewriting history after the truce. The project focuses on documenting sites where crimes were committed against civilians, through the prism of their reintegration as public places. All the work resulted from the author’s research based on UN and ICTY court documents. So far, it has been presented in the form of three solo exhibitions, several group exhibitions, awarded in competitions and published.

The author of Makeshift is Pawe? Starzec – photographer, sociologist, documentary filmmaker. He is primarily interested in correlations between space and its context, and in perceiving broader processes through their consequences and peripheries. Visual sociologist, dealing with contemporary iconography and visual narratives. Lecturer and academic teacher, creator of workshop programs, currently member of the artistic and educational collective Azimuth Press. Doctoral student at the Faculty of Applied Sociology, University of Warsaw, student at the Institute of Creative Photography, Silesian University in Opava (MA). Musician and sound artist, currently playing in the band Mazut, as well as solo as Industry Standard or Centralia. Enthusiast of DIY / zine culture. was created in the Laboratory of Interactive Narrations vnLab at the Film School in ?ód?, under the care of studio managers Katarzyna Boratyn and Krzysztof Pijarski and in close cooperation with Micha? Szota, who took care of the graphic design and programming.

Go to the project website

Interactive Narratives, Digital Academic Publications, and UX Studio

Head: Krzysztof Pijarski

Project Manager: Katarzyna Boratyn

Collaboration: Frédéric Dubois, Sandra Gaudenzi

The Interactive Narratives, Digital Scientific Publications and UX Studio is dedicated to the study and development of new forms of narratives arising from the use of digital interactive technologies in documentary film and related forms such as reportage and film essay.

The area in which we believe the most active experimentation with different types of interaction, viewer activation, where photography and film meet with literary forms, audio experiences, elements of animation and even computer games, are interactive (fictional)documentary forms. We see this field as an area of creating new models of visual narration, as well as a place where film meets with other media, especially photography, which is one of the areas of specialization of the Film School; as well as with literature or artistic exhibition. Hence our need to explore the field of interactive forms, to actively participate in it, and to take part in its further development.

The Studio is also intended to play a supportive role in the relationship with other vnLab studios, supporting and developing ways of presenting content such as VR, stereoscopic film, film essay, or multi-media scholarly publications, as well as producing distribution versions of the best works created in the Lab.

In the Interactive Narrative Studio, we support the creation of selected narrative interactive forms. Each of the works is created in a process of both creativity and research: the aspiration of the Studio participants is to find an appropriate narrative structure for the story they are telling. In order to do so, they confront not only questions about who the audience of the works they are creating is, but also about what kind of experience the story they are telling offers, or what narrative structure or technology will achieve the target experience.

An important part of the Studio’s work is the development of digital scholarly publications, using a variety of media and interactive technologies to present and disseminate research findings. As a result, the Laboratory becomes a publisher of works created within the Visual Narrative Laboratory with the intention of creating a new space for making public not only artistic but also scientific works. The digital form of the publication makes it possible to include fragments of digital and film works in theoretical articles, to include other audiovisual forms which build the context of scientific expression, and above all, which are scientific forms, as well as contemporary forms of visualization.

Results of vnLab competitions for 2020!

On December 6, 2019, the vnLab jury settled the competition for participation in the vnLab art and research program. We know that many of you have been waiting anxiously for the results. Indeed, in this, the first year of the lab’s operation, the process took an exceptionally long time. We wanted to appoint a competent, authoritative and open-minded Artistic Council, which we are convinced was successful. Its full composition can be found HERE. At this point we would like to thank all members of the Council for putting their trust in us and for participating in the jury’s deliberations. The level of entries was extremely high and as a jury we faced many difficult choices.

We congratulate all the contestants and look forward to working with the teams accepted to vnLab.

Thank you!

The vnLab team


  • Ksawery Kaliski – BLAST INVISIBLE RELATIONS (New narratives of contemporary and experimental music using virtual, augmented reality)
  • Patryk Jordanowicz – SELF
  • Krzysztof Grudzi?ski – The Dead City
  • Stankiewicz – Somebody About You


  • Anna Baumgart – Miczika
  • Monika Mas?o? – From My Point of View
  • Rafa? Ulicki – Photographer. Life in images
  • Wojciech Olchowski – Factor

Workshop of Interactive Narrations

  • Alicia Devaux – On the influence of gender in the career of female cinematographers
  • Laura Pawela – Pink Horizon
  • RATS Collective – HOME
  • Micha? Siarek – Good News from the Farthest County in Norway
  • Pawe? Starzec – Makeshift
  • Tytus Szabelski – AMZN
  • Micha? Szota – experimental form

Due to a change in the studio’s program for 2019, two projects, Pawel Starzec’s Makeshift and Tytus Szabelski’s AMZN are already underway. Because of this, the studio has accepted a total of seven projects.

S3D Studio – Directing

  • Anita Kwiatkowska-Naqvi

S3D Studio – Stereography/II stage of the competition

The participants in the second stage of the competition are:

  • Mi?osz Hermanowicz
  • Zsolt Magyari

S3D Workshop – Screenplay

  • Tomasz Jeziorski