What Happens When Virtual Reality Meets Contemporary Art?

Art & Design

September 7, 2017 | BY The Artling

Yes, virtual galleries are now a thing.

Virtual reality, the hottest trend combining art and tech, has taken the art world by storm. Recently, artists and institutions are experimenting with this new digital technology to create immersive works of art and exhibitions with which viewers can interact.

What is virtual reality?

Using headsets and tools such as Google Tilt Brush, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Facebook 360, the art world explores this fascinating new medium to immerse users in a three-dimensional simulated environment. With virtual reality, audiences will be able to view their favourite artworks without travelling across the globe. 

(Related: The Must-See Art Exhibits To Visit In Paris This Fall)

BMW Art Car #18 (2017) by Cao Fei, 'Unmanned'. (Photo: Courtesy of BMW AG and Cao Fei Studio)

Artists experimenting with VR artwork

Earlier this year in March, Art Basel teamed up with Google to launch a VR art project in Hong Kong. Using Google Tilt Brush, artists like Yang Yongliang, Cao Fei and Sun Xun created works of art by painting in three-dimensional virtual space.

In May, Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei unveiled her BMW Art Car #18 at Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai. Her work is a combination of VR technology and video art, which fuses ancient Chinese traditions and the rapid technological advancements happening in contemporary China.

Q3DVR (2017) by Feng Mengbo. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist and K11)

K11 Art Foundation, founded by Adrian Cheng in 2010, is another proponent of digital art, having held several exhibitions dedicated to virtual reality in Hong Kong and Shanghai. At the exhibition co-curated by K11 Art Foundation and MoMA PS1 in March, visitors could wear a headset to experience a virtual gallery installation by Founder of "The Gallery" project and certificated hypnotist, Wang Xin.

In the same month, Chinese artist Feng Mengbo also showcased his virtual reality work at an exhibition co-curated by K11 Art Foundation and Videotage. The work allowed viewers to witness a video game scene in virtual reality in which characters fight each other in a fish tank.

She's Already Gone (2017) by Yu Hong. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Khora Contemporary)

Khora Contemporary, founded in Copenhagen and launched at the Venice Biennale 2017, is a production company which focuses on creating contemporary art in virtual reality. After the exhibition in Venice in collaboration with Faurschou Foundation, the next show in Beijing is on view from 27th August to 3 February 2018 at Faurschou Foundation, Beijing. The participating artists include Christian Lemmerz, Erik Parker, Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler and Yu Hong. 

Institutions using VR as exhibition space

Many museums and institutions are also exploring the use of virtual reality to make art accessible. DSL Collection, founded by collectors Dominique and Sylvain Levy, embraces technology and uses virtual reality to showcase works of art. As a result, the public can access the collection and view artwork in a simulated space.

 

Application of VR at auction houses

Not only are artists and museums curious about the potential of virtual reality—auction houses are also experimenting with VR. For one of Sotheby's sales in March, the auction house released a virtual reality 360 video to let viewers experience what it's like inside the paintings.

 

 

The story originally appeared on the Artling. Visit for the latest art and design news, and keep up to date on Asia's best galleries and artists.

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