The Intersection of Art and Technology: VR as an Immersive Artistic Experience

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With the growing popularity of virtual reality, we’ve witnessed remarkable and innovative applications of VR to enhance and improve the world we live in. At AMD, we are at the leading edge of VR by supporting and enabling creators with advanced compute and graphics technology needed to bring their vision to reality.

We’ve seen the impact and potential of VR in education, healthcare, cinema and of course, gaming:

 

But what about arts and culture? It’s one of the foundational aspects of the human experience. We are excited to announce that AMD is a lead technology supporter of Trinity Square Video – one of Canada’s first artist-run centers and one of the oldest media arts centers – for a research and development project to present VR applications in media art. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, Trinity Square Video is a not-for-profit organization that engages diverse artists and creators through accessible production, post-production and exhibition support.

We’ve provided the technology support and VR-ready systems, which are equipped with powerful AMD graphics for the creation of the AMD VR Lab at Trinity. This facility will be available to Trinity members and arts organizations interested in creating and presenting immersive works.

Along with the Canada Council for the Arts, Trinity has commissioned four artists and developer teams to create new works that explore the potential of VR as an immersive artistic experience. Read on to learn more about these media art VR experiences with project descriptions provided by Trinity and the respective artists:

Artist: Eshrat Erfanian

Title: Tehran in 3D

Developer: TBA

Description: In this project, entitled Tehran in 3D, Eshrat Erfanian will use Oculus technology to create a 3D movie of her trip to Tehran to bring the mundane and the everyday images of Tehran to contrast the hyped vision of Iran by the poplar media. The viewer will have a choice to go to a cafe, school, garden, department store et cetera, and interact with different environments. Similar to previous works by the artist, the sound will not be synced with the image but will function as an independent element. Erfanian’s last project involved Google Earth Pro Image of Down Town Toronto West Neighbourhood. Erfanian’s doctorate work minds the effect of technology and the fast pace of consumption of images of alterity.

 

Artist: Yam Lau

Title: Out of this World

Developer: Jonathan Carroll

Description: Following his work in making philosophical inquiries into space by constructing virtual spaces with computer modelling and animation software, Yam Lau will explore the philosophical dimensions of the virtual with his VR artwork Out of this World. “When VR is activated, I experienced a slight, even infinitesimally negligible moment that body and/or the mind fail to recognize the new immersive reality simultaneously … I can perceive a world but my body isn’t there yet. This staggering is accompanied by a sensation, often very obscure and below the level of conscious awareness, that the body/mind is deprived of a world, that it is worldless for however brief a moment in time.” Drawing from the artist’s first-hand experience with VR, Lau seeks to prolong the moment when the body/mind falls out of sync between the worlds of the virtual and the real by exploring VR’s striking parallels with reports of near death experience and the texts and practices of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The result will be a VR environment that amplifies this dissociative power of the medium based on the research of near-death experiences. Lau’s goal is to explore the productive potential VR to reconfigure the relationships between the body, mind and world towards “successive states of flux and becoming.”

 

Artist: Erin Gee

Title: (working title)

Developer: Alex M. Lee; Roxanne Baril-Bédard; Marlon Kroll with research sponsorship by TAG (Technoculture, Art and Gaming) at Concordia University

Description: Erin Gee — a media artist working with robots, sound, emotion and performance — will create a twist on the archetypical first person shooter war game, proposing a video game where the player controls a cheerleading character based on the virtual pop superstar Yowane Haku. The aim will be to boost the morale of her military allies. Success is measured by the player’s happiness via a specially designed bio-feedback device. The reward is, perversely, to fight another day. Inspired by cyber-feminism, Gee reconfigures the virtual distance that military gaming and pop cultural fame is built on by re-entangling the body, technology and political agency.

 

Artist: Jeremy Bailey and Kristen D. Schaffer

Title: (working title)

Developer: TBA

Description: Expanding from their augmented reality video work, The Future of Marriage (2013), which takes the promises of a post-gender digital world to an ironic extreme, Jeremy Bailey and Kristen D. Schaffer propose The Future of Families. Responding to the lack of time and resources needed for couples to raise a family today, and taking advantage of the invention of self learning and intelligent computer software, they will create software that couples can raise as a technologically superior alternative to having a baby. Taking on parodic personalities, Bailey and Schaffer’s hybrid human/software families take the utopian ambition of technological innovation to hilarious extremes in playful yet nuanced cultural critiques.

 

We look forward to the Radeon-powered immersive artistic experiences brought to life by these four artists and many more at the AMD VR Lab.

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