REM5 VR Lab is a relatively new entertainment destination in St. Louis Park. But its aim is to provide much more to the community than just virtual gaming. Their mission is to bring high-end, virtual reality technology to the local community. Housed in over 6,000 square feet of amazing industrial modern space, REM5 offers a state-of-the-art virtual reality experience for all ages, experience levels, and interests. The REM5 approach makes premium VR accessible, comfortable, and social.
Last fall, Amir Berenjian, owner of REM5 studios, put out a blast to artists he found on Instagram. He asked if they wanted to take some time and use his space to test out Virtual Reality as a medium. His goal was to give them a chance to start a new creative process, and see how it all worked out.
Fast forward to this summer. Artist Brian Skalak of Second Sight Visuals, is coordinating a group of six people, all working together in the REM5 space. They come together regularly to work on their own individual creative projects, in what is a brand new realm for most of them. While they may only be hosting their fifth official meeting, excitement is growing. They’re learning new technologies, meeting new people, and expressing themselves in ways that they never before imagined.
The group consists of video artists, traditional painters, sculptors, glitch artists, and musicians, all experimenting with VR, AR, 360 video, and 3D modeling in hopes of bringing their expression to a whole new level through immersive technologies.
One of the artists, traditionally a 2D painter, has created a virtual replica of one of his acrylic paintings. On the surface it looks identical to the painted canvas. But as soon as you take one step forward into this virtual space, you are immersed inside of a unique 3-dimensional reality.
Amir explained that his goal is always to get people into headsets, and thinking about the ways that they might use immersive tech, “The first three hours with the headsets on, all people can say is ‘wow.’ It is only after about ten hours in that they start to critically think about how they can best use this medium to express their story.” That is precisely what he intends to provide through this artist-in-residence program, whose working title is ESC by REM5 (Experiential Sensory Collective).
ESC will open their first exhibit in the REM5 space on October 12, 2019, and the aim is to incorporate all of the senses, connecting reality with the virtual. There will be DJs, food, drink, and immersive artistic experiences. As Amir said, “There is so much potential in what we can do around VR.”