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VR is opening up new ways to experience art (androidpit.com)
72 points by praveenscience 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments

I wonder if people’s perception of 'modern' paintings will change if they view them through VR.

Many modern paintings are massive in scale (bigger than my bedroom in some cases) and/or have many thick, voluminous layers of paint. Jackson Pollock is a good example. Those paintings look plain and childish when viewed on a tiny screen that fits in your pocket, as you don’t feel their scale, you don’t sense the depth of the paint and its texture, and maybe, you are also not in a suitable environment to view the arts. (IIRC some Mark Rothko paintings are displayed in dedicated rooms with dim light, as desired by the artist.)

But if you view those arts through VR, you can get a lossless, holistic view of the artwork. It can even be better than viewing in person as there is no crowd standing in front taking photos...

When people ask me what unique things VR brings over other viewing technologies my answer is quite often "scale".

You can get 3D via stereoscopic displays. You can get the realism and wrap-around view from huge monitors or projectors but VR let's you see the true scale of something in a way that no other technology can (aside from "actually being there").

For viewing objects where their scale is a critical aspect, VR is invaluable. Aside from arts, architecture is another obvious candidate.

Animals is what excites me most by this. Many documentaries lack real, human scale when showing animals either living or extinct.

The prospect of seeing just HOW large dinosaurs were is something that makes the 6 year old inside me just giddy with excitement.

Certainly, dinosaurs are exciting but I recently blew my kids minds showing them pictures of how large a moose actually are in real life (they seem closer to "small elephant" size than "big deer" size).

Had the same reaction to seeing wild rhinos in SA. I had a misconception they were hippo sized but they were almost as big as elephants.

I haven’t found any games that exploit this yet. Traditionally it has been very difficult to make games that feature truly large entities that behave actively and not in very broad and uninterested patterns due to things like camera constraints and what not. Shadow of Colossus and it’s siblings come to mind as close examples of this almost working. But VR could make it great.

Lone Echo does this. The first time you look at the rings of Saturn hundreds of miles beneath you is truly breathtaking.


While the bosses move in broad and uninterested patterns, I've found that Jet Island is a game that features very large entities which make great use of the scale vr allows.

I haven't played it (VR or otherwise) but I've heard Subnautica VR makes you feel very small in a big scary ocean.

Dear God, Yes. And also claustrophobic.

Underwater volcanic caves... With __things__ in...

In the robot repair demo in Valve's "The Lab", when GLaDOS shows up, she's menacingly huge. It was never noticeable to me in the non-VR games, but it's the same model. I instinctively physically flinched away to protect myself when she showed up.

The VR game-- er, experience-- "theBlu" has some neat visuals that really benefit from the scale.

THIS! This is exactly what I have spent the last few years working on. Though its on one of these small screens, I've been striving to bring a greater appreciation of the old masters with gameplay mechanics. (You basically repaint the paintings in the game (in a fun way)) I feel this, and what I'm working on is only the beginning of a growing group of technologies and design that brings understanding and appreciation to a large audience. It's really exciting to think that more and more people will give these beautiful wonders much more than a passing glance, but rather a develop meaningful connection with them.

Do you about David Hockney’s research and theories about how the old masters used pinhole cameras and projectors to trace their subjects? Could be a really interesting aspect to add to your game play. Just did a quick search and found this rough summary - well worth exploring Hockney’s ideas. https://www.liveabout.com/camera-obscura-and-painting-257825...

> Many modern paintings are massive in scale

There are also VR-native artworks where scale can be just another dimension to the art, like color or mood.

Here is Goro Fujita's "Worlds in Worlds" for an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzsG1uqfDTQ

Why view or do anything in person if you can do it easier in VR in the future?

And if virtual reality is so real, why replicate what we already have? Why not create something entirely new? I think this is the premise of more than one movie recently.

On the subject, I just received an oculus quest, and I'm pretty blown away by it. I know that it will never compete with a PC-tethered device on image quality, but the quality is good enough and they have nailed almost every inconvenience that would stop the layperson from using VR regularly. It's lightweight, it's wireless, you don't need a dedicated room, the UX is seamless; you can just pick it up and start playing a game within 10 seconds. I've been on the sidelines of VR waiting for the inflection point where the technology is ready to go mainstream, and if this device isn't it, it's close.

I think it's close, needing to be tethered to an expensive PC was definitely one of the biggest deal-breakers.

The content is still a little thin I think. It seems like they're positioning it as a gaming console, and while they have some fun games like Beat Saber I don't think they have the depth of content that popular consoles usually have.

I think the other big thing left is the comfort/weight distribution, for me it's not terrible but I think there are other VR devices that are better. If they just get this to a good enough level I think watching 2D media becomes interesting. If a group of people want to watch the same show at the same time and place and own a big TV, it probably won't replace that, but I think there's enough other circumstances where media is consumed for VR to make inroads if it's comfortable enough. The nice thing about that use case is there isn't the same chicken-and-egg software problem that VR has in other areas.

Right now I don't feel this is the product that will take it mainstream because of those issues, especially the content. It's a shame that Oculus wasn't able to make it (optionally) plug in to a PC and has a separate headset for that. I feel like a lot of the current PC-based VR customers will order that by default, where if they made one device that worked in both cases it would bring along more of their existing userbase to mobile. Even primary PC gamers would probably appreciate low-power versions of their games that they could use on the go.

It's still very good for a v1 device though. If they keep addressing the biggest problems more mainstream success (didn't Mark Zuckerberg say his current goal is to sell 10M units?) doesn't seem that far away.

I was recently at a purported “VRCade” and was expecting to have the same sort of experience you’re describing. Instead I got to play some of the dumbest games with the most terrible graphics I’ve ever experienced.

If that had been my only experience with VR I’d think it was stupid. Having owned a VR headset before I know better, but others might be really turned off by that.

I think the reason for these over-simplified games is because VR is already a very new experience for a lot of people, and events showcasing VR to the general public don't want to add to the learning curve and possible motion sickness by having them play games with complex mechanics.

I had a Samsung Gear VR with which I'd play a Tron-like ping pong game. Lots of fun initially, almost no learning curve, but gets repetitive very quickly.

Are you saying that the quest has stupid games with terrible graphics? The ones I've played are only slightly scaled down from the rift games I've played. Beat saber, space pirate trainer, super hot, etc are all on the quest and are just as amazing as ever. I don't think VR is the right format for hardcore PC gaming, if that's your complaint. The platform really shines with simple games with clever emergent gameplay.

I am not, sorry if it came across that way. I'm saying I'm concerned for VR when commercial entities somehow trawl the bottom of the barrel for low quality VR experiences to scam people out of their money. I used to own a Rift and it far exceeded the experiences of a VRCade, but I fear someone interested in VR might go to a place wanting to experience "state of the art" VR and write it off as terrible.

I'm hopeful Quest will mitigate these sorts of things.

I love not being tethered. Beat saber on the Quest is, dare I say, a better experience than on the Rift!

100%! I've been absolutely addicted to it since I got the quest and play for about two hours per night. It's so enthralling when you stop thinking and get into a trance like state. I've even started losing weight! I would never jog for two hours, but I have to force myself to put down the game and go to bed, and I'm always drenched in sweat by the time I stop. I think untethered VR will be HUGE in the fitness industry once they get breathability locked down.

Your point about 'good enough' is exactly what I stumbled on a few months ago.

With VRidge (https://riftcat.com/vridge) I was able to setup my Pixel 3 in a Daydream headset, use 2 older smartphones as my tracked controllers, and enjoy everything from BeatSaber to SkyrimVR. Image could be better and smoother, but I don't care. I'm throwing fireballs and am fully confident the VR age is here for all intents and purposes. I'll drop the $$$$ on a dedicated setup in a few more months, I'm sure.

VRidge sent out an email earlier today about supporting the Oculus Quest.

I had an original Rift (with Touch and three webcams) and a Vive. I ended up giving up on both of them for two primary reasons:

(1) Lack of inside-out tracking. The basestation solution for the Vive was at least slick and clever and not terribly inconvenient, but needing 2-3 webcams connected to your PC for the Rift was crazy.

(2) The cord to the HMD was just too much of a nuisance.

I told myself I wouldn't get into VR again until it was untethered and didn't require external sensors or cameras. Lo and behold, here we are with the Quest only a few years later. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but to me other VR HMDs feel somewhat irrelevant in comparison.

I also had a Vive and a Rift and also sold both after a few months.

I just picked up a Rift S yesterday and started playing with it.

When I had the Vive I was pretty disappointed in the Rift (no touch controllers at the time, leaked light through the nose, just generally worse).

The Rift S is a lot better. The tracking without base stations, the touch controls work well, and they've really nailed the little things with the experience (easier setup, better menus, better hardware, fewer cords etc.). The price is also pretty good at $399.

The much more expensive unreleased Vive with the new strapped on controllers looks interesting, but it's really nice not having to deal with putting up the room sensors. Also since the new Vive will be more than double the price it's not really a fair comparison anyway.

I'm pretty impressed with Oculus' progress.

By "new Vive", you're referring to the Valve Index, correct? The Valve Index is designed and produced by Valve (creators of the Lighthouse tracking system used by the HTC Vive and the Valve Index), not HTC (which produced the Vive and Vive Pro).

Yeah that’s the one - I guess I thought they were both by valve and HTC was just a manufacturing partner for the first one.

i’ve done the vive. I have a quest it’s much better

I keep reading rave reviews about the Quest, and I'm getting really really close to buying one... I'm most worried about the longterm playability of the device. Will the novelty wear off, or is it actually something I'll continue to use.

If it were made by anybody but Facebook, I'd be a lot more interested.

Maybe it's irrational, but I just don't want to support that company.

I believe it will be no more or less of a novelty than any other headset.

I am convinced art is one of VR killer apps.

First we have VR-native art. Like Quill, Tiltbrush, Medium, etc. that let you lay down paint strokes in mid air in space for volumetric illustrations (an entirely new medium that didn't exist before), or sculpt virtual objects.

Then we have VR as a mean to create 3D assets for games. Medium, Gravity sketch, etc. Sculpt in VR, export, retopo. Same as what you'd do with a ZBrush workflow except you sculpt the thing organically. Currently most useful for organic shapes, possibly hard surfaces depending on the tool used.

Coming soon, VR for rigging and animating assets.

Then we have VR-based museums for traditional art. Then VR-based museums for VR-based art.

Then we have VR for movie pre-production, where it is used to visit a movie set before it is fully built, like Spielberg used in Ready Player One. This can also be used to figure out key shots angles.

I'm looking forward to trying the new Nintendo VR kit, the cardboard elephant head lets you sketch/sculpt in 3D. Plus you get to be an elephant.

The only comment so far is someone named Mark who said, "If you consider that art maybe the article has merit. I guess I am just to old school and really do not see the example in this article as art. I see it as computer generated graphics not art."

I'm surprised people still think this way.

I feel this way. Similar to how I don't consider online acquaintances actual friends.

On the other hand, I would consider the program that creates such graphics a work of art, but the graphics themselves are merely derivatives and have no special value to me.

Instead of seeing anything computer generated as 'amazing' anymore, it's just 'so what?' The N64 was amazing, everything since then is an improvement, to be sure, but not amazing. Probably similar to the first train ever built, that was probably amazing, new trains, while superior in every way, not amazing.

Have you seen artworks made in Tiltbrush or Quill?

Here are some examples out of many many more:

Wired by Zeyu Ren. https://vimeo.com/308957829

Alex's Sci-fi World by Matt Shaeffer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWNo1H2tVhg

Bird Gamayun by Anna Zhilyaeva https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUW49IKs1kE

Maybe these are really impressive in an immersive 3D type setting, but those videos just look like animations to me. I would not consider these things art.

Even the last one (or her other pieces)? It's basically a traditional painting but in space. You don't think the old masters would have loved to paint their masterpieces in volumes instead of on flat canvas?

No doubt that if the Renaissance were happening now, the masters would be working in VR.

I think the fact that it's digital cheapens it. You can use tools to make things exactly pixel perfect, it only takes time.

Obviously there are really talented and creative people doing things digitally that I could probably never do, but to me it's like watching people play a FIFA video game vs watching an actual match.

I'm a huge Dan Carlin / Hardcore History fan, and I can't wait to see this VR exhibit he has helped put together: https://www.warremains.com/

It's an immersive view into what it was like to be in the Western Front of World War 1. To me this demonstrates what the VR medium can do for art: immersive experience.

With the current technology, I doubt looking at a painting will be as good as in person due to low resolution, not feeling the same, etc. But creating an immersive experience seems to offer many interesting opportunities for the artist that are not possible using other physical mediums.

I am looking forward to the day that we can walk through a computer-generated infinite gallery in virtual reality, looking at paintings and sculptures entirely generated by machine learning algorithms. Humans are going to have to catch up!

You wouldn't say that about bipedal robots winning the 100 meter sprint. And humans still run the 100 meters although there are faster mechanical ways to go that distance.

Human standards of excellence are, and IMO should be, defined by what humans can do and experience. There's not much scope for competing with or "catching up" to a technology that is inherently many times faster/smarter/more creative that a human. Competition is not the right way to look at this.

I tend to disagree, if it's computer generated it is not art in the general sense. Art is the expression and application of human creative skill and imagination and AI doesn't have any creativity nor imagination, nor does it have any context within the current culture.

However, art can exist within this context if humans are involved somehow or have some input, and I don't mean just the coder's input.

There will be good AI-generated art that moves and connects with people and there will be bad AI-generated art that does nothing. This is the same as the humans that produce it today. It shouldn't matter how easy or how hard it is to produce or whether it has a human touch.

Personally, most computer generated art I see doesn't do anything for me besides act as surface-level eye candy, but I do think it's possible and VR might be a way to connect.

The art world has a history of subverting what people think art is. If this viewpoint becomes common, I think we can expect to see entire high-end exhibits of only AI-generated art at some point in the future (if this hasn't already happened).

> However, art can exist within this context if humans are involved somehow or have some input, and I don't mean just the coder's input.

How can you draw that line? If a coder is working on a generative art project, writes an algorithm, runs it, likes the result, is that not art?

Is an iterative process required where the coder throws away the first results and revises their system until they personally feel it's been sufficiently arted?

Not to mention the amount of human art data the model is likely based on anyway.

The decision to create and run the AI was human, anything can be art.

Also new ways to create art. Tilt Brush is really cool and offers some great creation tools, but I love Medium even more.

vr IS art.

just because someone identifies as an "artist" and makes vr doesn't mean they are making "vr art" and a graphics programmer is not making art. human creative expression is art whether made by an "artist" or programmer.

now for the smarter humans/bots to tell us how it really is. thank you.

I can't parse your second paragraph. It sounds like you're making two contradictory points. Can you reword it?

Shameless plug for someone I consider to be the most talented, creative artist I know of today: Isaac Cohen




A lot of his VR stuff needs to be experienced to really appreciate, but having spent hundreds of hours in VR I'm convinced this is the most powerful usage of the technology so far. Traditional art has hit a dead end today and this is the path forward.

Reminds me of Giphy's Museum of GIF Art // many of Planeta.cc's works

Last week, enroute to my daughter's graduation in New Haven, I stopped in Mass MoCA to see Laurie Anderson's "Chalkroom" (note: you have to reserve a slot which I had done).

If you have not experience VR art or have been disappointed by what you have experienced, then do yourself a favor and get to North Adams, MA to experience Chalkroom.


In the same vein, checkout Draw with Jazza's videos on VR [1].

[1] E.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eXwIyZ-H8o

What is the best way to create VR art? I'm very interested in the medium but currently do not have a rig or capable home computer, but am not opposed to picking one up. Any recommendations?

Repeating that art in VR is pretty much always made using Unreal, Unity or maybe Three.js

But, if you are specifically interested in making art IN VR, there's https://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/features/hacking-maker/7... There's also https://www.notch.one/for-vr/ which is pricey for pros but £99 for private use.

Any 3D art made with traditional modeling and procedural mesh solutions and placed inside an engine like Unreal or Unity should just work out of the box.

However the nuances of VR art are harder to take advantage of without goggles yourself, being able to test perspective and scale immediately is very beneficial and leads to creative solutions.

Just to put this out there, there is a trend in art in which communities are forming large, immersive PHYSICAL art installations.

For instance, Meow Wolf.

I am more excited by this than I am VR/AR technology in art.

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