Real World VR – Arts Session

Real World VR has evolved to include more than just Virtual Reality. Guest speakers incorporate all forms of technology in their work and presentations, ranging from Virtual Reality to Projection Mapping. The latest Real World VR session explored the way VR, AR and MR (collectively termed XR) are being used in the fine arts.

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Each of the guest speakers on the night started their practice in the traditional arts but evolved their work to include XR. Such speakers included an internationally published music producer, a contemporary figurative artist, a multidisciplinary artist and a motion graphic designer – all of whom showcased their ground-breaking artwork, amid live demonstrations and projections.

Cy art

Cy Gorman is an internationally published music producer and storyteller working with Mixed Reality – among many other disciplines. His work in Mixed Reality focuses on transmedia storytelling; that is, storytelling across multiple platforms using current technologies. One example of such work is Gorman’s work with Carmen Sandiego, popularly known for her title role in 90s computer game ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.’

He produced an 8-Bit digital deconstruction of the famous 50’s pinup girl, transferring her to cross-stitching on felt. Similarly, the retrospective 8Bit game sound design was re-contextualized when pressed to vinyl on the boutique Melbourne label Heard and Felt.

Carmen Sandiego art by Cy Gorman

Digital abstract art was projection mapped onto the female physical form, photographed and videoed, re-processed and expressed in an evolving transmedia narrative. This last step, in the ongoing process, is the Mixed Reality – physical and digital objects co-existing and interacting in real time. He produced an 8-Bit digital deconstruction of the famous 50’s pinup girl, transferring her to cross-stitching on felt. Similarly, the retrospective 8Bit game sound design was re-contextualized when pressed to vinyl on the boutique Melbourne label Heard and Felt.

Cy Gorman art at Real World VR

Jennie Rosenbaum continued this AR/ fine art coalesce with her Recursion project. Rosenbaum interprets classical figurative artwork into modern day Augmented Reality (AR) installations. Using machine learning to inform the process, Rosenbaum creates laser-cut MDF abstractions, which when viewed through a phone’s lens, transform into 3D figures. These figures are contemporised versions of classical paintings. An example of this is Rosenbaum’s Cambiaso-inspired 3D image, which sees the skull become a phone and the male gaze turned inward.

Jennie Rosenbaum art at Real World VR

This image epitomises Rosenbaum’s views on technology’s pervasion. Instead of criticising the prevalence of phones and individuals’ relationship with them, Rosenbaum finds beauty in the way smart phones connect humanity; the way that selfies can make people feel valid in their own skin, when they so often cannot control the way the world sees them.

Jennie Rosenbaum art

Throughout the evening, how this interest in XR began and such modes of incorporation were discussed in detail. Immersive animator, Marco Ryan (known as Marc-O-Matic), talked about how his process begins with ballpoint pen, inkwash and freehand drawing. Through this traditional means, Ryan produces detailed images like a heart that houses a metropolis. These drawings form the foundation of his AR work. Once a phone is placed over his art, it springs magically to life – the heart literally beats, clouds pulsate and trains speed past. By combining his art with 2D/3D gaming technology, Ryan is able to activate his worlds, giving them greater dimension and realness.

Marc-O-Matic art

Krystal Schultheiss, too, blends the real with the unreal. Her projections have featured in Gertrude Street Projection Festival, White Night, Rainbow Serpent and L’oreal Melbourne Fashion Week, to name just a few events. And they are no small feat; in order to ensure the geometry aligned when projected, Schultheiss took into account existing building features, such as the chimneys. She also accessed photography archives to gain an understanding of how the buildings looked before their signs faded. She used these uncovered photos to develop some of her projections, which see the signs restored and vibrantly displayed.

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The industry guest presentations concluded with a Google Tiltbrush demonstration from Stephen Ives – a bricolage sculpture and symbolist, who has had his work exhibited across the world and will have his next exhibition at Backwoods Gallery July 7-23.

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Through the demonstrations and Q&As, Real World attendees were exposed to a whole new world of XR – one where technology and art converge to create boundary-pushing installations, animations and design.

The next Real World VR event will take place on Tuesday August 17th and will focus on film in VR.

Nicola Nemaric