We were thrilled to have the opportunity to create the music, sound design and 3D spatialization for a brand new VR art platform launched at the 'Brilliant Minds' event during Symposium Stockholm 2017. A new company, called Acute Art - was formed with the intent of bringing art in VR at the highest levels to as many people as possible. Works in progress by Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic and Olafur Eliasson were featured, displaying a bold and innovative vision for the future of the medium. for these unique launch experiences.
Koons in particular was fascinated by the idea of 'affirmation' in virtual space. The idea of 'am I really here?' is explored through his use of a reflective surface on the ballerina, Phyrne - who is the protagonist and teacher in this experience. Upon closer inspection of her sinews and curves, it quickly becomes apparent that the viewer's movements are being reflected, creating a heightened sense of interaction and presence. The piece is certainly thought-provoking, and we are excited to see where it goes from here.
Abramovic's thoughts on the praxis we currently reside in between the human and post-human, in the face of earth and post-earth are both thought provoking and unsettling. In her piece, which addresses climate change through witnessing the destruction of a glacier in VR, she observes: "You're saving the human beings, and you're saving the planet. Or, you're not saving the planet, and you're letting the human beings die. The choice is only yours". To the extent that VR can be a medium for direct experience of those ideas and realities that we would only otherwise have an abstracted sense of (and there for empathy with), one might hope that works like Abramovic's may yet give rise to a more enlightened resonance with our precarious existence on this planet.
Olafur Eliasson's piece, "Rainbow", which also showed at the Venice Biennale last month, is a re-working of his original 1993 installation - "Beauty" in VR. Using a sophisticated particle system for rendering water droplets, this experience brings a new level of immersion into play. Add to this the viewer's ability to actually interact with the water and you have a 'lose yourself' space that is really quite extraordinary. The whole experience is set in a pitch black cave, with only a vented crack in the roof allowing either light or water through. As one approaches the waterfall, colors begin to shimmer and the sound envelops the viewer. Through the intricate interplay between the physics of the setup and the immersive environment, the experience, in Eliasson's words - "encourages the user to become active and produce your own world".
As we developers, directors and artists continue to explore the possibilities of the VR medium, with the question of 'what is it good for' always at the forefront of our minds, it is worth looking to art as a vehicle for aesthetic exploration as a means to connect more meaningfully with this exciting technology.