These virtual reality artists will challenge your perception of art
Have you ever wanted to explore the depths of an erupting volcano? Or maybe you’d rather float in space in the form of a mythical creature – well, if your imagination can take you there, a virtual reality artist can too.
New technologies have developed rapidly over the past decade, but VR, as it is popularly known, is still in its infancy.
The possibilities for the future are endless and it’s not just for gamers – now anyone can visit museums and festivals live, and hang out with friends in avatar form – all with the ” using ultra-reliable broadband such as Sky Broadband Superfast.
We ask three subject matter experts what they love about VR, how they use technology to fuel their passion for storytelling, and what it’s really like to put on a headset and carry your mind.
Don’t worry, your body stays put.
“ Virtual reality allows you to visit worlds that exist only in your mind ”
Having studied and worked as a 3D animator, Rosie Summers from Leeds fell in love with virtual reality five years ago. The 25-year-old’s passion for storytelling actually started in the fine art, but thanks to technology and reliable broadband she was able to develop into a new art form.
“I used to specialize in painting emotional oil portraits, but I wanted more movement in my work and that’s when I started working in animation” , she says.
“Thanks to this, I naturally discovered VR. It’s a mind-blowing tool for any storyteller because you can defy gravity and visit new worlds that would otherwise only exist in your mind.
“But it’s essential that I have fast broadband; it’s a lifeline for me because it allows people to participate wherever they are and it helps me to expand my audience.
Rosie hosts live shows that combine dance and virtual reality – where she performs for viewers while wearing a headset on a green screen that will display the virtual world she is in.
“It’s almost like a webinar or a Zoom chat,” she says.
“Thanks to the power of the Internet, Internet users can immerse themselves in other dimensions.
“I also use a lot of technical equipment, like headsets and high-powered PC programs, to create the lighting and colors for my virtual reality environment.”
Rosie’s inspiration comes from her surroundings, especially nature. She also loves space and often incorporates it into her work.
The VR artist has designed everything from fantasy universes to forest scenes and galactic art, as well as unique characters.
Her latest project “Blood Speaks” is a powerful story created by Indian artist and transmedia activist Poulomi Basu, which explores the normalized violence women face across the world around time periods. It centers around a girl called Maya, who forms a bond with a British Indian teenager and together they reveal hidden patterns of patriarchy.
“Maya rises like an almighty phoenix, full of strength and powers of the universe – she’s a superhero,” says Rosie. “This is the fundamental beauty of virtual reality, it allows you to immerse yourself in a different culture in a way that other arts cannot.
“And it’s not as difficult as a lot of people think. I don’t code or anything like that – I’m strictly an artist who uses digital media to present my work.
“You really live with that in mind and that’s what I love about it,” says the passionate storyteller.
“ You no longer look at a painting, you explore its entire universe ”
Quentin Darras is new to the world of virtual reality. The passionate 3D animator co-created his first design last year, after winning a £ 20,000 grant through an initiative called Creative XR, led by Digital Catapult and Arts Council England.
And it’s all about art, literally; but moved to a digital space using reliable high-power broadband software.
Dubbed (Hi) Story of a Painting, each episode of the five-part series revolves around a famous painting, such as A Sunday Afternoon by George Seurat on the island of La Grande Jatte.
“I fell into virtual reality and it changed my way of seeing art,” says Quentin, 33, originally from Paris but who moved to London in 2009. “You still have to tell a story, so work is pretty much the same as 3D Animation, but I had to take a crash course in designing in 360-degree space.
“You no longer look at a painting – you explore his whole universe, which is fantastic.“
Quentin, who worked with brands such as Nintendo and Lego, was originally scheduled to become a doctor.
“I was in medical school and hated it,” he says. “After failing my degree, I joined a VFX start-up and my passion grew from there.
“The great advantage of virtual reality is that it is accessible to everyone; you can just go to the internet, get the programs you need for free and be creative. “
But having the right tools is essential to the artist’s process. In addition to the latest VR kit, reliable broadband, such as Sky Broadband Superfast, is essential.
“Everything I do takes place on a computer; not just the design, but the research and writing. I need constant access to information, ”adds Quentin.
Despite some challenges, he has no regrets about giving up his medical career.
“I couldn’t identify exactly what I love most about virtual reality,” he says. “All I know is that it brings me so much happiness.
“To do my job, I just need a good broadband, tea, at least a sketchbook and a good computer.
“It might not be very romantic, but it’s very important – and with that I am able to create amazing art.”
“ You could be an animal, have six legs, or explore the interior of a volcano ”
Anrick Bregman is a storyteller alumnus, having worked as a Creative Director since 2007, before embarking on virtual reality in 2014.
He specializes in the artistic interpretation of factual stories, such as the transformation of documentaries and newsreels into virtual experiences in which users can immerse themselves – and he is a great champion of the Internet.
“Previously, the web had a tremendous amount of creativity applied; we use a browser every day for emails, maps and facebook, but let’s not forget it’s also an experimental storytelling tool, ”he says.
“Decades ago we were limited on what we could do – like when it took hours to download photos – but with reliable broadband, we no longer have those limitations.
“Now your browser is a place where anything can happen and virtual reality feels like the next frontier.
“One of my favorite projects was the story of a refugee crossing the Mediterranean, based on a short story by Khaleid Hosseini, author of A Thousand Splendid Suns.
“This intersection of the written word translated into virtual reality appeals to me – it is very powerful.”
A more recent project involves recreating a mysterious place built in Greenland in the 1960s, which no longer exists. Even if it was, the area is freezing cold and virtually inaccessible to humans.
But in a virtual world, anything is possible.
“You could be an animal, have six legs, time travel, explore the interior of a volcano, or go to space,” says Anrick.
If you’ve never tried virtual reality and are curious about what it looks like, Anrick, who is Dutch but moved to London 20 years ago, offers you a preview.
“It’s really annoying at first and some people get nauseous,” he says.
“Others become very aware of the furniture around them and fear it might fall, but you get used to the feeling very quickly.”
Although virtual reality requires you to wear a headset that disconnects you from the world you are physically in, it’s still a very sociable experience – and it’s only possible with reliable broadband.
“A current misconception is that VR is a single player version of a game console, but it’s not,” says Anrick. “Shared spaces such as DJ sets and festivals, even conferences, offer another facet of this medium.
“Last week I was inside the Greenland exhibit as an avatar, talking to a ‘room’ of other people – some of whom were in Copenhagen and Aarhus.
“I have two VR headsets, one low end and one high end, because the experiences are very different. The Oculus Quest 2 is wireless, so the internet is crucial again.
“In addition, you can expand yourself with all kinds of interesting add-ons and specialized software, such as body tracking or lip reading, which makes your avatar better match your real body inside virtual reality precisely.”
With everything in place, the rest is up to you… and a reliable broadband connection.
When technology and passionate creativity combine, the results can be out of this world. Find out how super reliable Sky Broadband Superfast could help fuel your passion.