During the HOPE Outdoor Gallery’s final months on Baylor Street, one Austin company has memorialized the popular graffiti park through virtual reality.
SubVRsive, an Austin startup specializing in virtual and augmented reality, captured the private art park through thousands of high-resolution photographs to create a VR walk-through experience of the Austin venue.
The park is set to close on Jan. 2, and construction will begin at its new location at Carson Creek Ranch near Austin-Bergstrom International airport. The construction timeline has been pushed back a number of times because of changes, such as delays related to permitting requirements, and the graffiti park is now expected to open at its new, expanded location in summer 2019.
Ian Villamin, SubVRsive’s vice president of interactive development, said he hopes Austinites will remember the old park through the project.
“It hurts my heart a little bit every time I drive down Lamar,” Villamin said. “This is a landmark. It’s hard to see something like that go, and quite symbolically, the thing that’s probably going to replace it is a high rise.”
But the old park will live on at its new Carson Creek Ranch location through a permanent VR walk-through installation. Users can wear a VR headset to tour the old park long after its gone, said Fiona Hutcheson, director of marketing at SubVRsive.
“For the person driving, it feels like you’re actually at the park,” Hutcheson said.
Eventually, SubVRsive hopes to expand the walkthrough to allow users to virtually spray paint the old graffiti park.
Miles Starkey, HOPE arts project director, said he couldn’t believe the level of detail in the project.
“I imagine the SubVRsive installation will leave many with a loss for words,” Starkey said. “The installation will give folks a chance to step back in time and experience the place where the magic began.”
SubVRsive showed off the project at a booth during the recent “Hops for HOPE” event benefiting the building of art parks and 2019 HOPE projects.
The art party at Fair Market featured local beer tastings and a mural art show.
Since its 2011 debut, the graffiti park has gained international attention and drawn an average of nearly 500 daily visitors. The new art park will have extended wall space for artists, an outdoor park space with parking, restrooms, art classes for youth and adults and the ability to preserve the art created on the property, among other features.
The VR component will come to the new park for free. Emmy-nominated SubVRsive’s average price point is usually around $50,000, according to Villamin.
“We just do it because we love it,” Villamin said.
In 2017, SubVRsive landed $4 million in its Series A funding round and hired former Hulu executive Johannes Larcher as its CEO. The company was founded in 2015.