Salvador Dali is considered one of the greatest modern artists the world has ever seen. Famous as a surrealist icon, Dali’s work stretched the breadth’s of our imagination and took the viewer into strange new world’s of startling, strange and barbaric landscapes,contorted beings and alien images.
How fitting that for the first time, Oculus Rift virtual reality has taken viewers inside the world of art, and inside one of Dali’s paintings, Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus” (1933).
“I surrendered myself to a brief fantasy during which I imagined sculptures of the two figures in millet’s ‘angelus’ carved out of the highest rocks….” Salvador Dali
The VR piece is 5 minutes long and allows viewers to step inside and navigate around the painting, accompanied by an eerie sound scape.
The experience is intriguing and exciting, and started me thinking about all the other artworks I want to be totally immersed in, like Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night (1888), or Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party ( 1882). Imagine the sensory expansion of listening to the sounds and being a part of that living scene. The possibilities of opening art experiences to new audiences, engaging children with immersive experiences, and deepening our engagement with artists and great works of art is highly appealing.
Imagine taking the VR experience into contemporary art and being totally immersed inside ,say, a Rothko painting, so renowned for the deeply emotional responses they cause in some people just through viewing the work. The possibilities are many, but should this be the future for art galleries and museums?
The traditional view of art galleries and museums is that they are custodians of the past, often dusty government-run organisations, some of which are still grappling with the basics of customer experience.
But there are small signs that this is changing, as any visit to the Musical Instruments Museum in Belgium, or the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania will tell you. The recent Remix Conference in Sydney, Australia , talked of collaborations between Microsoft, the University of NSW and the Australian Museum , on preserving Aboriginal languages, and the British Museum showed how it has come leaps and bounds in embracing of digital technologies to enhance the visitor experience.
So too in the US, Silicon Valley finally has its first art gallery, Called Pace Art and Technology, the gallery has collaborated with a Japanese art collective called teamLab, to present “Living Digital Space and Future Parks“. Identifying themselves as “an interdisciplinary group of ultra-technologists”, the exhibition consists of large, completely immersive digital art experiences.
In the UK, artist Scarlett Raven is about to launch The Danger Tree a groundbreaking visual arts experience, running through July,in Greenwich
Heralded as the world’s First Augmentist, Raven is said to be the first oil painter to work in augmented reality
Recently too, TIME Magazine introduced eight artists to Google’s Tilt Brush allowing them to create three-dimensional art in virtual space. The artists experiences varied, but shortly thereafter Google announced a new virtual reality platform Daydream, which incorporates a new version of Google’s Android mobile operating system built with virtual reality in mind. Clearly , VR is set to become the norm.
How significant VR and other technologies become in art is yet to be seen,but some early adopters and undoubtedly enhancing the viewer experience. I wonder what Dali would have thought of this technology and art? I suspect, as the “chief architect of the imagination” and with his fascination quantum physics and the uncertainty principle, it’s easy to imagine he may have been excited by the possibilities.