Why You’re Wrong if You Think VR Art is a Gimmick

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Most artists — at some point in their creative journey — fantasize about creating their own world… their own reality. A place born from their imagination and will.

“I paint flowers so they will not die.” — Frida Kahlo

Humans have been fascinated with the concept of virtual reality since 1935 when American science fiction writer Stanley Weinbaum presented the idea in his short story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles”. And since the Oculus Rift (a popular VR headset) was launched in 2012, VR is becoming more immersive and more prevalent with every passing year.

Cover of Pygmalion’s Spectacles short story

And with software like Google’s tilt brush becoming more intuitive and easy to use, artists are starting to create works that live exclusively in the digital realm.

And no, it’s not only digital artists who are doing so. Fine artists are taking up the mantle as well.

“In short: technology provides new tools for expression and it changes the way we think about the world. It has the power to fundamentally change our collective understanding of art. But technology alone does not have that power. Certain historic and philosophical conditions had to be in place as well.” — Dalibor Polivka, The Real Politics of Art

Artists are building a ‘portal’ into a reality of their own making

This is a major VR art installation at Círculo de Bellas Artes titled “Temperate Forest” presented by Cristina Garcia-Lasuen. And she’s coined the term “Portal Art” to encapsulate a genre she describes as “3D, VR, immersive, interactive, realistic, multi-sensory, of the world.”

She also states that for virtual reality art to be considered as “fine art” it should fall under these criteria:

Criteria 1

For a creation to be a work of art, it must be done by an art professional: an artist.

Criteria 2

The objective must respond to very elaborate intellectual criteria and not merely aesthetic ones. The exclusively aesthetic, without previous intellectual development, is not art; it is ‘something decorative’.

Criteria 3

For conceptual art, as an essential priority, the work must be the result of a long reflexive process, in accordance with artistic, philosophical, literary and art history concepts. The concept that has inspired the reflexive work is the most important thing — much more than the final result or aesthetics.”

One of the most difficult things about promoting and sharing virtual art is that it can only be done in virtual reality. However, the video above depicts exactly how an artist can go about creating a portrait with Google’s tilt brush.

“The Chalkroom” by Laurie Anderson

Fine artists are setting up installations at well-known museums. And their popularity is overwhelming. “The Chalkroom” by Laurie Anderson at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) is booked out up to 30 days in advance. And Jon Rafman’s “View of Harbor” by Jon Rafman(where a tsunami sweeps you out into the ocean) is capturing the imagination of thousands at the Institute of Contemporary Art

The Artistic community is excited and gearing up to keep improving the tech

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” — Victor Pinchuk

Google’s serious about getting on board with the artistic community. They’re working with 60 professional artists to explore and improve the current tools available.

Meanwhile, the Museum of Other Realities is an exclusive VR museum that hires, pays, and promotes artists across multiple disciplines.

And there’s many, many more VR projects,art pieces, and worlds out there — most in their infancy — for you to experience.

And here’s the good news — people are investing in and collecting VR art installations

The bad news is that it can be a little tricky to purchase, install, maintain exclusivity, and keep the tech working for years to come.

Private art buyers can now purchase a VR art installation for either investment or display in their home. All that’s needed to view the piece? A headset and a 3×3 block of empty space.

Galleries focusing on new media (like TRANSFER Gallery in the US) are actively supporting VR artists by providing funding, promotion, and installation.

“TRANSFER offers support for artists who are experimenting with new forms of installation and exhibition of Virtual Reality works.”

However, once you’ve purchased an artwork, how do collectors and investors retain and preserve their exclusivity? And how do you ensure the art remains viewable as new technologies emerge and may not be backward compatible. The answer deserves a whole article of its own, but this quote describes the underlying problem clearly.

“Let’s say you’re acquiring a Wolfgang Tillmans photograph. The work would be editioned, perhaps with additional artist’s proofs — but the gallery representing the artist would probably not concurrently post a high-resolution file of the image, welcoming anyone to reprint it at their local copy shop. For some working on the cutting-edge of VR art, collecting such material involves letting go of some of the preconceptions we have surrounding unique art objects and their attendant value.” — Scott Indrisek, contributing writer for Artsy. Link to the full article.

So do you want to create your own VR artworks?

All the equipment and software you need to get started will set you back around $1000. But from there, all you need is an internet connection and power. You have an unlimited virtual canvas that can be as big (or as small) as you want it to be.

If you want to get started with taking your art digital, head on over to the app store and download D Emptyspace. It’s a virtual gallery app that’ll give you a taste of what you can accomplish in a new, virtual world.

Download the app on iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

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4 Controversial Artists Who Challenge Their Governments

4 Controversial Artists Who Challenge Their Governments

Street art in Edinburgh by The Rebel Bear

“To make people free is the aim of art, therefore art for me is the science of freedom.” — Joseph Beuys

Art has played a major part in stirring up and supporting revolutions. As governments scramble to retract freedom of speech and suppress criticism, artists react with a fearless intensity.

Often their artworks cause governments to arrest and imprison them for years at a time…

And yet, rebellion remains.

Ai WeiWei, China

“It’s powerful only because someone thinks it’s powerful and invests value in the object.” — Ai Weiwei

Ai WeiWei is a Beijing-born artist who’s spent his entire life creating controversial art pieces that speak out about human rights and government policy in China. After studying abroad in the 90’s, he returned to China and started blogging on a popular platform called Weibo from 2005 to 2009 with a mix of “scathing social commentary, criticism of government policy, thoughts on art and architecture, and autobiographical writings.” Later, he switched to Twitter, claiming to spend 8 hours online every day.

Dropping a Han Dynasty Vase by Ai Weiwei

His 1995 artwork “Dropping a Han Dynasty Vase” (pictured above) caused particular outrage among Chinese officials to which he replied, “Chairman Mao used to tell us that we can only build a new world if we destroy the old one.”

Ai was arrested in 2011 on allegations of tax fraud (he was released 3 months later) and forbidden to leave China until 2015. He now lives in Berlin with his family and creates art internationally. Multiple documentaries have been released about Ai and his ordeals with the film “Ai Weiwei’s Appeal ¥15,220,910.50” detailing his arrest.

Banksy, The World

Street art by Bansky commenting on capitalism

Banksy is an England-based street artist whose identity remains a mystery. His work first started appearing on walls in the 90’s and often gets sold for millions of dollars (to the artist’s apparent disgust). Banksy is famous for harsh commentary on political matters globally. Capitalism, war, and the political tendency to ignore problems are common themes.

Statement left on a wall in Gaza by Banksy

In 2015 he constructed “Dismaland” — a parody of Disneyland that was infused with political meaning. The deconstructed infrastructure of the installation is now used as emergency housing for immigrants. Then in 2017, he offered a free print to Bristolians if the voted against the Tory candidate (an offer retracted on the grounds of illegality).

Banksy continues to challenge governments with recent works focusing on the UK’s exit from the EU.

Zehra Dogan, Turkey

A painting by Zehra Dogan that was destroyed by Turkish officials

Zehra Dogan is a Kursdish artist and journalist who was arrested and imprisoned in 2017 for her art. She was released in early 2019 after 2 years and 10 months saying “I will continue the struggle.”

The artwork she was arrested for was of a Kurdish district that Turkish security forces set ablaze. According to Amnesty International, around 500,000 people were forced to leave their homes due to the violent crackdown.

In the artwork below, Bansky calls for the release of Turkish artist Zehra Dogan.

Street art by Banksy calling for the release of Zehra Dogan

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Pussy Riot), Russia

Nadezhda is the co-founder of the infamous Russian feminist punk rock protest group, Pussy Riot. The group staged politically charged art performances that were directed against the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. In 2012, they held a performance inside Moscow’s “Cathedral of Christ the Savior” where they danced provocatively in brightly colored tights and ski-masks.

Pussy Riot perform in Los Angeles. (Photo: Consequence of Sound)

For the group’s antics, they were charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years imprisonment (just over one year and a half were actually served by Tolokonnikova thanks to a change in law). Petr Pavlensky, another famous Russian artist literally sewed his mouth shut in protest to their arrest.

Now the group is performing internationally with a mixed reception. They’ve been at the center of a suspected poisoning scandal and have recently canceled a show in Hong Kong due to threats from the mainland Chinese government. Their continued message? Stand up to suppression and keep fighting.

Are You a Revolutionary Artist?

Have you created controversial or politically charged art? We’d love to see it. Curate a gallery on D Emptyspace and use the hashtag #revolutionaryart in the description. We’ll select several galleries for promotion on our social media channels and in our newsletter, which goes to thousands of subscribers.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

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W.

Why a Website Makes a Terrible Art Portfolio

Why a Website Makes a Terrible Art Portfolio

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

It’s finally happened. A collector you chatted up at a local art event asked the golden question… “Do you have any pictures of your work?”

That question is a make-or-break moment. You need to show them a portfolio of your art — and fast — before they lose interest.

But how?

Lots of artists default to their website gallery.

With DIY website builders like Wix, you can get a website up and running in an afternoon. But does a website make a good portfolio? In some cases, yes. But does it make the best portfolio? Almost never.

So before we get into the reasons why (and what to use instead), remember that websites are useful in many other ways. You can use them to keep a personal journal or blog, build a comprehensive record of your work, supply galleries with a detailed artist’s bio and description of the artwork, and build an online presence that galleries, collectors, and curators can link back to.

Your website takes too long to load on your phone and people lose interest

How loading in WordPress works

Most artists document their artwork with photos using a professional camera or smartphone (click here if you want to know how to get the best out of your photos). While these images are excellent quality, they come along with large file sizes.

If you upload a photo to your website that’s still in its original size and resolution, it’s probably more than one megabyte. That means when you pull up your website to show someone you art ‘quickly’, you could be standing there for 30 seconds while your images painstakingly load. And that’s only after you’ve navigated to your main gallery page.

Are there ways around this? Yes — if you resize every single image AND run it through an image compressing service like tinyjpg.com. But then you have to be careful not to lose too much quality. It’s a delicate dance that takes time and know-how.

It’s worth making sure a website loads efficiently. But when you’re at a cocktail party and quickly need to show someone your work, a website simply takes too long.

Websites don’t always display images beautifully and can be troublesome on different devices

Many people don’t realize that websites are not a “one size fits all” solution. A website will display differently on every single device. So what looks good on your desktop wouldn’t look the same on your iPhone. And with 47.96% of all traffic coming from mobile phones, any display problems are a big deal.

So web designers developed something called “Responsive Design”. Responsive design means that a website will adapt to the screen size you’re displaying on. This diagram displays it best

Plus DIY websites can be clunky and annoying to use on your smartphone when you’re in a rush. Even if your photos display at the right size.

Keeping a website up to date takes time and attention

Artists are not known for their incredible powers of organization. Keeping the gallery on your website up to date is a constant struggle for many, many people. And if you want to show off an artwork that you just finished today, chances are, you’ve just snapped a picture and haven’t yet had the time to upload it.

In a nutshell: Websites are a pain to keep updated — so you probably won’t have your most recent work on-hand.

Verdict: Use one of these other methods to show people your artwork on your phone

1. Have a dedicated album on your phone

Pros:

  • Don’t need to download any software
  • Accessible without an internet connection
  • Don’t need to upload images anywhere

Cons:

  • Fiddly to set up
  • Not a professional look
  • Chance someone sees your embarrassing family photos while swiping

Use a virtual gallery app like D Emptyspace (click here to learn more)

Screen Bed by Jonnie Turpie

Pros:

  • Displays artwork in a professional gallery format
  • Share gallery links with others
  • Scale your artwork up to any size on a wall
  • Include artwork names and descriptions
  • Tell a story by sequencing your work in the right order

Cons:

  • Need to download
  • Need an internet connection or to have saved your gallery offline

Upload your art to Instagram

Pros:

  • Easy to use and familiar to most
  • Can grow a large social following
  • Automatic filters can help you color correct your photos

Cons:

  • Limited to a square image format
  • Have to create a business account for your art
  • Not very professional as a format

Building a powerful online portfolio

As a D Emptyspace featured artist mentions in her interview, being prolific online is a major asset when you’re trying to get your work out there.

“It is through technology with social media that I was invited by newyorkart.com to participate in their group exhibition of their opening of their new gallery at Franklin Place New York.” — Veronica Wong

Use whatever method looks and feels best for you as an artist when showing your portfolio of work. But don’t neglect to build an online presence at the same time.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download