The conception, production, and experience of art and entertainment have been profoundly impacted by digital technologies for quite some time, but virtual reality and immersive technology is taking this transformation to a whole new level. The phrase “getting immersed” in art has evolved from a metaphoric expression to a literal possibility. Care to be a part of the art? Immersive technologies enable the audience to get inside and interact with creative works whether it’s virtual storytelling in galleries and museums to special events showcasing virtual art.
The impact of XR in creative industries signals a broader cultural shift where digital interactivity is becoming integral to the creative experience. This evolution of “being creative” reflects a deeper change in our relationship with technology – one where digital and physical realities are increasingly intertwined, offering novel ways for audiences to engage with and appreciate creative expressions.
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Many artists have been embracing digital tools, but now gaining an immersive dimension that expands creativity and viewer engagement. Artworks used to be confined to physical canvases or traditional gallery spaces, which has been transformed into a digital landscape with interactive and experiential components. Traditional art still holds immense value, of course, but immersive media come with an extra layer of personalization that just isn’t possible for regular formats. With virtual and augmented reality, there is a multi-dimensional world of interactive experiences opening up. The way art used to be made and displayed is changing, and not just that — also how it is perceived and experienced by the audience.
XR also enhances accessibility to art. Online VR galleries such as Pocket Gallery, museums like Smithsonian or VR-All-Art exhibitions can be accessed by anyone, given that they have an internet connection. It broadens the audience base but also allows for a more diverse range of voices and perspectives in the art world. With the personalization facet, XR truly shines offering tailored experiences based on viewer interactions.
Virtual storytelling is a new avenue for filmmakers. Immersive narratives can go so far as to capture the audience into a fiction that can be perceived as reality. Climbing a Mt. Everest is something most people won’t experience in their life, but with VR filmmaking, it’s accessible! Another new phenomenon is the audience’s participation in co-creating the story. The interactive interplay lets the audience be a part of the art – the audience can become a performer and vice versa. Storytelling used to be majorly a witnessing act of a tale that has been scripted and performed, but rarely in a dynamic interactive manner. VR cinema is an engaging connection between the performance and the audience that creates a close link, which allows the visitor to take away much more than just a peek into someone’s creative mind.
The Immersive Tech Week 2023 is a great example of immersive experiences. Church? Yes, you read that right. At the Church of VR at the Immersive Tech Week 2023, visitors could get immersed in so many virtual experiences.
The exposition consisted of rooms with multiple stations where every headset was an entry point to a different virtual experience that told a story and stunted the observer. Some were short movies, others abstract virtual installations; and most offered a stunning artistic narrative that made one forget that it’s all virtual. Here are our top picks from the Church of VR 2023:
Giusy Amoroso’s “Beyond Perception” is a standout piece lasting around 7 minutes, immersing viewers in surreal worlds populated with morphogenetic forms and ethereal digital sculptures. The work invites the audience to explore alternative realities between human and alien worlds.
“Let Nature Heal” by Jacco Kooistra is a 15-minute VR experience designed to remind viewers of their connection to nature through the lens of the five stages of grief. Kooistra’s work addresses the growing disconnect between humanity and the Earth. In a virtual journey he acknowledges the loss but also celebrates the cycle of giving back to Mother Nature.
“Caves” by Alex Raúl is an 8-minute animated experience that places viewers in the midst of an intimate choir performance set within the expansive environment of a prehistoric cave. The lack of dialogue in this piece emphasizes the auditory experience, allowing the immersive choral sounds to resonate powerfully within the virtual cave setting.
The fusion of art, technology, and storytelling has opened new horizons in the way we experience and interact with creative works. In the virtual space, there is more room for personalized and interactive experience to make the audience a part of the narrative.
This is a whole new gateway to a world where art is not just seen or heard but is an experience that envelops, engages, and transforms us. The future of art and entertainment, enriched and expanded by XR, promises a journey into new realms of vivid creativity.
Petra Palusova is writer for the VRX blog with an affinity for all-things-XR. Architect, systems scientist specialized in XR and synthetic environments, Petra is currently active as a product design lead, advisor and researcher delivering best practices, communications and business strategies to technology companies building XR products and platforms. A true jack of all trades!