Art And Culture

Raising Consciousness Through Virtual-Reality Artwork

Raising Consciousness Through Virtual-Reality ArtworkRaising Consciousness Through Virtual-Reality Artwork

Marina Abramovic and Anish Kapoor have embraced virtual reality.

In Abramovic’s VR debut, ‘Rising’, the artist is present and in peril, while the elevator pitch for Kapoor’s ‘In Yourself, Fall’ could be Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ meets ‘Fantastic Voyage’.

The performance artist and sculptor shared their experience making the works and thoughts on the medium’s artistic potential in a lively conversation on March 6, at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) in London.

The Royal Academicians’ first VR works were shown at the RA, ahead of their official premiere at Art Basel in Hong Kong later this month, reported.

Abramovic’s ‘Rising’, which as its creator said is a “work in progress”, takes the viewer to a stormy polar landscape and face-to-face with the artist’s avatar in a glass display case, Houdini-like. You decide if the water in the vitrine rises above her avatar’s head. Pledge to take care of the planet and the water level falls. Do nothing and her avatar drowns.

Abramovic said that the piece was all about raising consciousness. Kapoor confessed to feeling “naughty” about Rising’s message.

“I wanted more global warming,” to make the water rise faster, he joked.

She revealed that one of the first videogames she played was in Japan, which put you in the position of a firefighter saving children from a burning orphanage.

“I remember the indescribable joy of saving 20 babies,” she said.

Kapoor’s VR work, ‘In Yourself, Fall’ simulates a vertiginous and at times gory descent into the human body. He wanted the experience to be more “visceral” than was currently possible.

“The technology is good but it isn’t good at subtleties,” he said, adding that it still has a cartoonish quality that lacks realism.

Asked if he would continue working in the medium, Kapoor responded with a “cagey yes.”

RA’s Artistic Director Tim Marlow chaired the discussion. He wondered whether Abramovic saw potential in her VR avatar to continue her “epic ambitions” as a performance artist when she had “left the planet”. Abramovic sounded game.

“I can’t do things that my avatar can do. I can’t levitate,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to playing with augmented reality. With the technology developing at top speed, by the time Abramovic’s major survey opens at the RA in 2020, the first solo show by a female artist to fill its grandest rooms, who knows what will be possible?  

‘Rising’ and ‘Into Yourself, Fall’ are produced in collaboration with Acute Art. They will be premiered at Art Basel in Hong Kong from March 29-31, supported by HTC Vive, the fair’s virtual-reality partner.

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