Everywhere But Nowhere, Virtual and Augmented Reality Art: Immersive Pop Up Experience
By Genie Davis
Just a few weeks ago, the immersive pop up Everywhere but Nowhere, Virtual and Augmented Reality Art took viewers quite literally into a new dimension. A project of District Gallery sponsored by the Los Angeles Downtown Arts District Space, virtual and augmented reality artists created new worlds of art and reality.
Kevin Mack’s Virtual Reality Worlds & 3D Printed Sculptures is an incredible experience. Wearing their VR glasses, viewers “move” through Blortasia, a maze of sculptural shapes that change form. At first the eye simply takes it all in, the colors and the shapes. Then the mind questions – did that abstract form become an animal? Did that tree move and change its branches? The viewer gets the sensation of flying through a passage as the sculptures shift and evolve; there is the distinct sensation that one is no longer in the “real” world. Each participant’s – because one is more than just a viewer here, one is intimately involved in the experience – perception alters the experience, making it a unique visual and meditative experience, one that alters if re-taken. Outside the VR experience, Mack recreates his virtual sculpture into real world sculptural works using 3D printers and digital prints that appear delicate and surreal.
With Augmented Reality Art Vortex, it’s time to take to the street. Artist John Craig Freeman creates a reality vortex, that when viewed through a free app provided at the gallery, transforms the location of the work. Viewers are invited to look at the intersection of E. 3rd, Rose Street, and Traction Ave through the app, and experience DTLA in an entirely new and dream-like fashion. The AR Vortex concept was begun in Paris in 1957; it’s as fresh and mysterious today as it was then, an alchemical experience. Viewed through the app, tiny figures and objects swirl like leaves and fly through the sky, apparent portals open showing a black and white image. A graffiti-covered dumpster floats by.
Prototypes from the Frontier of Mixed Reality by Zenka is a magical mix of ceramic sculptures that appear to be transported from a distant planet or future, and hand printed wooden block prints with augmented reality visible through a smart phone app. Her sculptures are made using raku, a Japanese ceramic-firing process that dates to the 1500s. While the technique may be historic, the subjects are futuristic – sculpted heads clad in VR headsets both past and future, 30 of them, in fact. Each piece has different AR to view through a provided app.
Lucas Kazansky’s Augmented Reality Works delves into the connection between the digital and real world. Connecting the two through interactive experiences and designs involves both augmented reality and 3D modeling. The result: visuals that encourage a new way of seeing. Sharply fragmented human forms seem bisected by shards of ice, while mysterious abstract forms interconnect and coalesce.
Michael French also combines digital and traditional media, here his augmented reality sculptural piece resembles an upended boat covered with wires to the naked eye. But ah, the eye should not have remained naked here. Using French’s app, the piece springs to life with “motors” controlled in real time through hash tags. The art pulsates and changes, a chameleon of a piece.
While this pop-up installation has come and gone, it is a dimensional look into the future of art forms and functions, an aspect of art creation that is sure to grow as an entirely new way of viewing.