Since mass-market Virtual Reality technologies were launched in early 2016 many artists started to engage in the field of VR. The renowned European art institution for electronic arts, the HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel), commissioned digital arts curator Tina Sauerlaender (peer to space) to organize a show on the artistic use of VR, the first large-scale one in Europe.
The exhibition presents very different artistic approaches by nine international artists, 4 of them from the US: Martha Hipley, Rindon Johnson, Rachel Rossin and Alfredo Salazar-Caro. Rachel Rossin is also part of the New Museum’s and Rhizome’s recently released VR App exhibition First Look. Together with Wiliam Roberton, Alfredo Salazar-Caro conceived the first VR museum for VR art, DiMoDA, widely presented across the US and Europe.
Exhibition view THE UNFRAMED WORLD at HeK Basel, artworks: Rindon Johnson
Meet in the Corner, 2016 (installation, VR experience for Google Cardboard) // Banz & Bowinkel, Mercury, 2016 (Installation and VR experience)/ Photo by Franz Wamhof
The VR experiences in the exhibition The Unframed World: Virtual Reality as an artistic medium for the 21st century all are embedded in installations, projections, video works or sculptures by each artist in the exhibition space. Therefore the exhibition offers not only a virtual and immersive experience but also a real and physical one. The artistic works in the exhibition convey the aesthetic potential of Virtual Reality and examine its role as a critical medium for reflection on states of being in the world today. The works address architecture and urbanity, bodily perception and physical laws, social issues, poetry, performance, gender, and identity.
Banz and Bowinkel, Mercury, 2016 (VR experience, screenshot)
The desire of humanity to become immersed and to delve into new worlds has always been present—like the inner chambers of Egyptian pyramids, the frescoed rooms of the Renaissance, panoramas or vast cinema screens. Looking at a flat surface remains a passive experience for the viewer, ever aware of the limited screen and the real environment. In Virtual Reality, the beholder now perceives surroundings in a 360-degree all-round range in 3D from a personal point of view and explores them using a head-mounted display, a controller, and body movement. As an active component and central point, the viewer or user moves around in the illusionary space and senses a self-presence as well as the proportions and dimensions of the surroundings. In the exhibition, the visitor becomes a part of virtual artworks, which are thereby lifted from the pedestal of sublime admiration and brought closer to the reality of the viewer’s life.
THE UNFRAMED WORLD.
Virtual Reality as artistic medium for the 21st century
Curated by: Tina Sauerlaender
Artists: Li Alin (CAN/DE), Banz & Bowinkel (DE), Fragment.In (CH), Martha Hipley (US), Rindon Johnson (US), Marc Lee (CH), Mélodie Mousset & Naëm Baron (FR/CH), Rachel Rossin (US), Alfredo Salazar-Caro (US)
Duration: January 19 to March 5, 2017