Art Dirt: Is Virtual Reality the Future of Art?

by Glasstire September 27, 2020
KAWS Acute Art HOLIDAY SPACE Augmented reality artwork

HOLIDAY SPACE, an augmented reality artwork by KAWS. Image taken via the Acute Art app

Christina Rees and Brandon Zech discuss the art world’s (still nascent) use of virtual and augmented reality, how VR undercuts traditional art experiences, and its real potential in the hands of artists.

“For somebody who has so many doubts about where the digital revolution is taking us, I’m actually quite excited about virtual reality in art, because I do think that artists will continue to push the boundaries of what it can be … I do think a lot of artists are capable of doing something that we haven’t imagined yet.” 

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Related reading:
Glasstire: How the Art World Should Exploit Pokémon Go
Glasstire: Capitalist Consumption: the Institute for New Feeling at Ballroom Marfa
Glasstire: Surrounded by Sharks in Virtual Reality
New Museum: Versions: The Creative Landscape of Virtual Reality
New Museum: First Look: Artists’ VR
Wired: Want to Know the Real Future of AR/VR? Ask Their Devs
Schirn Mag: How Virtual Reality Conquers the Art World
A New App From Microsoft Takes Users Inside the Conceptual World and Studio of Artist Sol LeWitt
Blue Star Contemporary’s Red Dot augmented reality mobile app
The New York Times: A Step Into the Unknown, With Virtual Reality
The New Yorker: Confronting the “Shocking” Virtual-Reality Artwork at the Whitney Biennial
The New Yorker: Studio 360
Acute Art: Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Art Production


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Jo Zider September 27, 2020 - 11:43

Is Virtual Reality the art form to which we are headed? Hell, I hope not. My last experience over at Moody Center last February, had me shaking when I realized I was putting on a mask donned by many others already that day, and it had not been sanitized! Can you imagine that today? Really scary. For the few minutes I did have the mask on, the experience was scary, not reality…it was like a hallucination.
Harkened back to when I was much younger, had 106 fever and pneumonia…the hallucinations were driving me out of my head delirious. No thanks. Don’t need that kind of drug like mind altering experience.
And besides: Isn’t illusionary two-dimensional drawing and painting a form of “virtual” reality. You’re seeing depth and a reality that is actually nothing but a graphic trick; how beautiful it can be!

Julie Speed September 28, 2020 - 11:50

Considering the malleability of memory, I think that Christina is absolutely right to wonder if new tech will “outstrip our brain’s ability to deal with it”. “Virtual Reality” , “Mixed Reality” ….Both phrases bring to mind Kellyane Conway’s assertion of “Alternative Facts”.

Hannah September 29, 2020 - 13:25

I remember the Ballroom Marfa piece. It felt a bit like a Costco advert. But I’m team “material.”

I think this dirt is timely. At the beginning of the pandemic we figured out you could google an animal and you had the option (on many) to have the augmented reality of a tiger in the room, etc. My 4 year-old loved it, and “got it.” It will be interesting to see the tech generation response to this kind of work.


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