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Why Virtual Reality Is Still A Medium That Needs A Cradle

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Over the course of two weeks in April and May, I saw two works created in virtual reality (VR) at a gallery in London.Originally by Dominic Gonzalez Forster arenariumis the artist’s second major VR work, created for a large-scale show of her recent work at London’s Serpentine South Gallery. the second is cold lighta collaboration by Lindsay Sears and Keith Sargent, is part of a multimedia installation at the new Matt Gallery in South London.

It’s a huge leap in software, ambition, and content from Jon Rafman’s VR work, which I first saw in 2015, and others from that period. Both were extraordinary experiences, proving that the VR space is fertile territory for artists. But the “user experience” (known as UX) of the gallery’s hardware looked pretty much the same as when I put his VR headset on for the first time. Gallery A kind member of his team helped me put on the headset. Sometimes they give me the receiver. A little bit of bad luck with the latter can lead you to menus that shouldn’t be there.

Alex Boyes, Art Technology Producer at Serpentine Galleries, describes this “cradle” as an ongoing aspect of VR in galleries. “VR is establishing not just the ability for artists to experiment, but new ways of thinking about UX. [the UX]But also from an agency point of view, from an audience point of view,” he says. “So when you put on a VR show, you have all the elements of onboarding, monitoring, and ticketing systems that don’t always move nimbly to make the experience optimal.”

View of Doug Aitken metallic sleep (2022), a VR exhibition created by Vortic © Artist; Courtesy of 303 Gallery, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Victoria Miro, Regen Projects

Eva Yeager, The Boys’ colleague at Serpentine and art technology curator, said: She said the film industry “opens a great way at the crossroads between filmmakers and artists who are building virtual her reality worlds,” adding that she has “expertise in the cradle and infrastructure of VR experiences.” ” adds that there is.

Gretchen Andrew, Curator art newspaperA panel at Considering Augmented Reality (XR) Projects said a key factor in the relationship between the art world and VR is that “the demand for headsets is actually as high as the art world and the gaming world expected.” is that it does not exist in Market penetration and market adoption is very low. “It’s a personalized experience so designed by tech companies that 10 years ago everyone thought she’d be at home three years from now,” she said. increase. Like X-Box or Playstation? “I got the impression that I thought it was like a mobile phone.” Even Andrew tells us she doesn’t have her own headset. The hardware and her UX her awkwardness “looks like it’s stuck 10 years ago,” she says.

art is not a game

But once the cradle is complete, there is little doubt that VR offers a rich and diverse art experience. In 2016 Oliver Miro co-founded his Vortic. Vortic produces his 3D exhibitions for web, mobile and VR. He is also Director of Sales for his Victoria Miro Gallery, and his VR component has been featured in various projects piloted through the gallery.

Vortic built their own rendering engine to better represent the virtual reproduction of the work and the space in which it resides. “Everything we make now is beautiful, and it’s all automated.” It’s also easier to use than other software of its kind and more accurately reflects the physical nature of the work. “A common problem with VR was that there were these game engines that people used that didn’t fit the art. It always felt like you were in a computer game.”

At the heart of Voltic’s work to date has been a more authentic experience of physical objects in exhibition spaces than in online reading rooms, whether in museums such as CAC Malaga or the Wallace Collection in London, or in commercial galleries. was to create Pandemic has become familiar.

And VR has special advantages, he says. “This is the first digital technology that actually creates memories,” Miro suggests. So, rather than seeing something mediated through a screen like an Instagram feed, using VR “feels like, ‘I was standing in front of that piece,’” he says. “And that’s such a big difference,” he says of its ability to “humanize” and “naturally interact.”

A common problem with VR is that there are these game engines that people use that don’t fit the art.

Oliver Milo, Voltic

Vortic was also used to create a bespoke VR exhibition by Doug Aitken. There, the artist designed the environment for the work, the collector was sent a headset, and a sort of virtual private view of him was created within the space designed by Aitken (which Miro did very well). . Still, Miro explains the awkward cradle that comes with the process. While this may be more manageable in private settings, it remains quite unwieldy in public – in fact whenever Vortic uses VR at trade fairs or galleries, support is always provided he says Miro. He was “too worried about someone hitting a wall or hitting something. Someone needs to be there.”

A key part of how VR evolves (in terms of adoption and gallery accessibility, explained by Andrew) is how portable and affordable VR hardware can be. That’s it. Both Boyes and Jäger mention the power of their work we live in an ocean of air, made by Collective Marshmallow Laser Feast at Phi Center in Montreal. “Because I could sense my breathing and my heart rate, [work] Watch their breathing and movements with a friend. There are really interesting, more tactile things going on,” says Jäger. But to achieve these effects, she says, visitors wore “backpacks containing batteries.”

goggle technology

Miro suggests that the obvious path for VR is to “be just a little pair of glasses,” pointing out that some products are getting closer to that now, but not the quality needed. But the consensus is that it may be years before more minimal tech becomes the norm: For now, Boyes said the social media company said Snapchat was “more wearable goggle tech.” said to be developing. Then there are rumors of Apple’s entry into the VR stage, perhaps sometime this year, with what appears to be a “mixed reality” headset. “When Apple comes into the market, you see that they tend to see very high quality products, very well designed products, and products that people look good in,” he says. . Boyes said Apple’s loyal consumer base means the company’s VR offerings “will introduce and introduce more audiences to the space,” adding that “there are potential opportunities in the future.” or I hope so.”

Another factor in realizing the artistic potential of VR is how easily artists can adopt the technology and, being artists, be able to subvert or criticize them from within. For example, shortly after Microsoft launched his Kinect motion sensor add-on for the X-box, a digital artist hacked them, producing some notable work, including one by his Ed Atkins artist.

“I don’t know any artists who are exploring VR from the hardware side,” says Andrew. “In some technologies, there are artists who are strictly on the software side. For example, early net he is art. [where] Artists are pushing hardware and software aspects at the same time.and the cost of doing so is [with VR] It really keeps creative people out of tinkering with hardware as a creative process. ”

Despite its cumbersome hardware, Marshmallow Laser Feast’s we live in an ocean of air Reflects the extraordinary potential of VR

Photo: © Sandra Larochelle

Jäger also suggests that corporate gatekeeping of technology may limit the potential for artistic intervention. “Tech companies are trying to get it out of the box,” she says. “And that creates some problems just for artists to hack. It is very important for art institutions to advocate for new relationships with technology companies. I really advocate for the artists so that they can use the hardware and for the people who are using it, helping them implement that hardware so they don’t end up being the same person trying to sell the hardware please.”

Current hardware and UX mean that gallery visitors are less likely to experience VR than video installations and augmented reality projects on smartphones, yet artists worry about medium restrictions on access. Of the wide network of spaces available to artists, Jäger suggests that it may be most useful to think of VR in galleries. They are working on a “concept” about creating a persistent world that can have multiple users. And for those artists, it has little to do with gallery space. [which] One node in it. They think about audiences on a much larger scale. Hardware, such as VR headsets, is not the “core technology” of an artist’s work, regardless of what it evolves into, she says. “The core technology is the game engine that builds the world, and when it comes to hardware, this is a long way off.”

Fundamental to the future of art and VR is technology’s ability to allow viewers to effortlessly enter the space of an artist’s imagination. “For me as a producer, it’s essentially creating a portal into the world of these stories,” says Boyes. “And the more seamless or fewer points of friction introduced in creating the user experience, the higher the success rate in communicating the artist’s vision and protecting the integrity of the work.”

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster: Alienarium 5Serpentine South Gallery, London, until 4 September. Lindsay Sears and Keith Sargent: Cold LightMatt’s Gallery, London, until 17 July