Several museums and art galleries have become involved with virtual reality (VR) as a means to engage visitors as well as those who cannot physically make it to the location. The National Gallery of Australia have become the latest with a new exhibit called Terminus.
Visitors to the National Gallery of Australia (NGS) will be able to take part in a five-part immersive experience created by new New Zealand-based artists, illustrator Jess Johnson and videographer Simon Ward.
The experience of Terminus is designed to merge VR with art. Johnson spent years drawing a strange imaginary world before Ward transformed it into a 3D work of art before the additional dimension of VR to create a surreal, immersive experience.
“It’s this idea that reality is malleable and you can find these wormholes or portals into different worlds,” Johnson said. She continued that she embraced the potential of VR, but qualified that with fears that it could lead humanity down some dark paths: “It can reflect the best and the worst of humans,” she said.
The idea of ‘wormholes’ has been taken to a more literal extreme in Terminus than in most science fiction, resulting in a VR portrayal of insects and a strong overtone of body horror throughout the Terminus experience. Despite this dark and sometimes disturbing portrayal, Ward is enthusiastic about what VR as a medium can do fro artists saying it was gratifying to see the participants getting so much out of the experience.
The VR installation is part of a series of works commissioned by the NGA and Balnaves Foundation, which aims to challenges the preconceptions and expectations of visitors. The series is called the Intervention series, and each work aims to draw the spectator further into the artwork, instead of being a passive viewer.
“The Intervention series is about bringing contemporary art to the forefront of what the National Gallery is offering to its audience,” curator Jaklyn Babington said, “This is work that you have probably never seen here before or expected to see here.”
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