Follow multimedia artists Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang as they guide you through their dreamlike virtual reality piece ‘To the Moon’ – a spiritual meditation on the time we live in, where you land on the Moon, undergo an out-of-body experience and see our civilisation from new perspectives.
Anderson likes to go into the world she creates as an artist, and in this case, the moonscape is extended into “unknown territory.”: “You’re like an astronaut. You can hardly move, you’re in your cocoon. But for me it doesn’t matter so much – it’s the mind that can jump, it’s your imagination. So it’s a work about that.” Anderson is aware that VR isn’t for everyone, but her secret goal is to make people feel free: “I guess, in a funny way, this is about my love of openness, and the freedom that that brings.” Also, she continues, it’s about realizing that you’re “nothing” but rather “part of something that is beyond awesome.” She doesn’t appreciate being put into categories, and feels that VR combines all the different elements she works with: “Movement, physical engagement, language, music and most of all being able to disappear into something.”
“With the virtual reality, you actually become an astronaut, landing on the Moon.” Huang feels that in the West, the human body is always the central topic. In the VR work, however, you inhabit the body of an astronaut at first, but later on you lose this body and take on a new one, which consists of numbers and arms that resemble tentacles: “You feel your body is changing, and I think it’s only the VR media that can do that.” In continuation of this, Huang feels that when you fly in VR, it is a bit like flying in a dream. He considers VR a technological progression, “the screen getting closer and closer to us.” That being said, Huang emphasizes that he doesn’t simply want to stun people with the work, but also “touch their hearts.”
Anderson and Huang have worked together since 1995 when Anderson saw Huang’s entry to a video competition. Talking about their collaboration, Anderson comments that Huang is “the brains behind the operation” with an “unbelievable visual imagination.” Just as Huang describes Anderson’s work as “so rich, with so many hidden meanings, in every word, every phrase and every music note.”
Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is a legendary award-winning multimedia artist based in New York. Initially trained as a sculptor, she has worked with painting, music, multimedia shows, drawings, operas, electronic software, theatre, films and installations throughout her career. Anderson became widely known outside the art world with her single ‘O Superman’, which reached number two on the UK pop charts in 1981. She is considered a pioneer of electronic music and is praised for her unique spoken word albums and multimedia art pieces. Among her most recent work is the film ‘Heart of a Dog’ (2015). In 2017 under the name of ‘La Camera Insabbiata’, ‘Chalkroom’ won for ‘Best VR Experience’ at the Venice Film Festival. Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe. From May 2017 Laurie Anderson’s ’Chalkroom’ is on view at the MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, USA. For more about Anderson see: www.laurieanderson.com/
Hsin-Chien Huang (b.1966) is a Taiwanese multimedia artist, whose work explores cutting-edge technologies in art, literature, design and stage performance. Among many prestigious awards, Huang was awarded the grand prize of ‘New Voices, New Vision’ new media competition in 1994, the Muse Award of America Association of Museum in 2009 and the Light of Taiwan’s Honor from Taiwan’s President Ma in 2001. In 2017, Huang won Best VR Experience at the 74th Venice Film Festival for his work with Laurie Anderson, ‘The Sand Room’. Huang also collaborated with Anderson on the virtual reality installation ‘Chalkroom’ (2018) as well as ‘To the Moon’ (2018).
Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang were interviewed by Christian Lund at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in connection with the exhibition ‘The Moon’ in September 2018. In the video, Anderson and Huang talk about their VR piece ‘To the Moon’ (2018).