Could you describe what you aim for when using Virtual Reality. Why did you choose to use Virtual Reality?
What I love about VR is that you can create experiences that are not possible in the physical world. My idea for Friends in VR was to gather a group of friends, introduce them to the medium, and offer them a space to create. It was incredible to watch their reactions as they discovered a whole new way of expressing themselves. After all the artworks were done, I was amazed by how different they were, even tough all of us had the same set of tools to create. Also, the environment I chose was space itself, with a moon in the middle where I drew the logo of the project. Then, I uploaded the file to my website and everyone was invited to not only visit the exhibition, but to make it grow. So, people can participate and it becomes a never ending experience. You can’t do that easily another way, so using VR was perfect for this project.
Doing an exhibition is hard and you did one in VR inside of ‘Tilt Brush’. How did it feel to be creating an exhibition in non-existing world? Do you think it is easier to do it in the ‘real’ world or using VR?
It felt like an experiment, I didn’t really know if it was going to be good or if the concept would work. Only after everything was put together and I teleported around, I was convinced it was a good idea. Also, I always like to invent excuses to spend time working with my friends and that was enough for me!
About being easier, I don’t know. It depends, I guess. It all depends on the content of the exhibition. I went to art shows where the concepts were so strong, the physical objects itself were very easy and simple to do. I don’t believe one substitutes the other. I believe it’s a new medium, and it can be combined with the real world or it can be enjoyed by itself, and they’re both valid ways of expressions; because in the end, what really counts is the idea behind it and how you communicate it, not the medium you decided to use.
What do you think about the idea that VR is blurring the line of what is real and what is not. How do you think Virtual Reality may affect people’s perception of images in the future?
I have to admit that I sometimes lost myself in it. In a way that my brain forgot that I was in a closed room in an apartment and not in Ricky and Morty’s garage for example. The first time I used Tilt Brush, I spent 4 hours without interruption. I completely forgot I had a body, I became this drawing entity. My brain gets tricked by VR very quickly, so lately I’ve been watching how much time I spend there. Also, because when you come back to reality, it feels unsettling. I need some time to readjust. So, in that sense, yes, it does blur the line, but nothing we can’t be conscious about and be careful the way we use it. As with every technology, I believe we need to be responsible for the way we use it.
I feel like we’re in the very beginning of VR right now. Do you remember the first cellphones? Those huge bricks people used to carry around? That’s how I see VR right now. A huge brick in your face that will become more sophisticated with time.
What does VR mean to art? Do you think that Virtual Reality is a new platform for artists to explore? What does it do for an artist? Do you see any potential threats working with VR as an artist?
I don’t see any potential threats whatsoever. As I mentioned before, what matters most for an artist is the idea, the concept and how the artist decides to communicate that. It doesn’t really matter what kind of medium an artist uses. It has to make sense. You shouldn’t use VR just because it’s hot right now (also because soon it won’t be).
It is a new medium, a new way of immersive exploration and I think every artist should at least try it once so they can experience how it feels. And then decide if it fits for what they’re trying to convey with their work or not.
Do you think in the future VR will be in our everyday life? If yes, in what areas? Do you see any negative aspects of kids using Virtual Reality?
Yes. I think VR is going to extrapolate to the way we use our computers, social media, cellphones and all sorts of new services and jobs will be created thanks to it. In all areas. And also, there’s augmented reality which is another big thing coming (sometimes I think, even bigger). It’s very exciting and especially to be thinking about all of these things. For me, its always a pleasure to dream about possible future scenarios.
Now, about kids using VR, I’m still doing a research about that, so I don’t know yet and to be honest, nobody really does. It’s too new. We don’t even know the consequences of adults using it yet. What I always say to people when they ask me this question is: be responsible and conscious about the way you’re letting your children use VR, cellphones, tablets, TV, and everything electronic. Everything that is used excessively is bad no matter if is VR or the latest little app from their parent’s phones.
There is more and more Virtual Reality horror games. For instance, in horror adventure game called ‘The Inpatient’ you are playing as a role of amnesia patient that wakes up trapped in a creepy asylum. What is your point of view about that kind of games?
I personally don’t like horror games (unless there are zombies in it!). But there are lots of people who like to be immersed in these kind of stories, so why not? We have horror movies, books, console games, why not VR as well? If you, like me, get nightmares and bad vibes from playing these kind of games, that’s totally fine: find something that is good for you. I’m a big advocate for freedom, so I say let all sorts of virtual worlds be available for us to experience and get to know ourselves better!