Mixing Realities: The Final Blend

Art is an ever changing and evolving piece of human history, what is it, what is it not? Try searching the history of art and most of what comes up is a definition for art history, it is a grand and expansive subject that covers anything from cave drawings to the statue of liberty. To make it more difficult, what qualifies as art has changed dramatically over the centuries; music, street art, chalk drawings, classical paintings like the Mona Lisa, all with their own credit as artists. A fascination with the history of art and how it is changing and evolving in the newest age of technology and inspiration, seems complicated and difficult to follow. Though realistically it is easier than ever to be part of the developing culture and connected further to artists and audience with tech like the Vive or the Oculus.

            In its most basic element, art is defined as the expression of human creative skill and imagination typically in a visual form.[1] So really whenever you aren’t able to buy a Halloween costume, so you sew and glue one together yourself, that is art! What stands out with art is the artists ability to go beyond the average thought and understanding, creating something out of the ordinary. We may not realize it, but the way they make it changes our perspective. It is safe to say that a historical piece of art and history such as the statue of liberty would be forgotten, but this can’t just be because of its representation. To say nothing else, a giant statue sitting on a platform in the sea next to one of our first 13 colonies is out of the ordinary. Some of this credit must go to the build itself, made entirely from copper, steel, gold, and cast iron.[2]

            So, what makes a piece of art so special? Well it is many things, what it is made of, how long it took, the rarity and specialty of the materials, more goes into it than you might imagine. What makes it so special to true artisans is the meaning, the depth and heart filled within the piece created. This new age of creation symbolizes that more now than ever, there is no rarity with this product, there is no material being made. What makes the developing culture so special is the awe-inspiring capabilities of the software.

            Technology has not only changed the interface in which we work within but the way we discover those interactions. Truth be told the products that are used with the systems aren’t cheap, but with them becoming more common and more consumer driven, even this is changing drastically. From a system being over $2,000 for the least expensive versions, there are now portable VR headsets with controllers for less than $400.[3] That being the most recently updated and released system, one of the most advanced for common consumer use, not a multi-billion-dollar business. No longer are we required to try and simulate a 3D landscape with a computer monitor that will become obsolete within the next two years. With an entirely new view, artists bring everything they could ever wish for to life. The limited restrictions really come from the hardware of the device they are using and its capabilities, not the users. They can choose from paint colors, textures, sizes, shapes, anything and everything they need is reimagined with this device. The device itself was designed as a piece of art!

            Video games and this type of technology originated as a military program to determine the trajectory of ammunition when shot; it wouldn’t seem likely at the time that it would be used in this way.[4] More and more are users going to this medium for displaying their art and productions. It gives the player a better chance of seeing and interacting with the exhibit because they can be part of it wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Any of us can do it. Time magazine asked seven different artists to create a piece with VR, whether that be a model, a sculpture, a painting, but bring it to life. Each had their own unique piece, but each was interconnected through this technology. Each artist created something with meaning to them, in a virtual space, but with real materials that they could change and manipulate as they would in the real world. Tilt Brush, an app developed by Google, allows you to model and paint as if you were in real life. They even created the same type of set up as a traditional artist, with the paint brush in your dominant hand and the different colors and aspects in your other as a color palette.

            It doesn’t stop there, you can then pair your piece, your system up with a 3D printing device.[5] This takes some time and practice to perfect depending how detailed the piece was. It no longer has to stay in virtual reality, (although it can if you so choose) the data and details of the piece can be transferred to the printer and be created just as it was when you made it! The system is so in-depth that it even takes the direction of your brush strokes and analyzes the difference in your piece because of it!

            The border between artist and audience is closing. We are no longer in two separate groups of great idealists that wish and hope that our dreams will become reality one day, we can make it happen. With a small amount of training and understanding of the different systems each and every person could create an entire world! Limited only by the capabilities of the hardware. With step-by-step process training, our ability to use the technology is becoming easier every minute, the price is dropping, our connectivity through the devices is growing. As long as it is in the cloud and we allow it, our works, our process, everything we create can be put out into the world. Shared with everyone, as easily as taking a picture or a screenshot. Entire museums have been recreated with this technology, as well as museums using them for exhibits and attractions. So, creating art is easier than ever, sharing it and developing it into something more as well. A misunderstanding so often made with emerging mediums, they aren’t here to destroy, only rebuild. The same technology for 3D scans in video games are also being used to recreate the historic Notre Dame.[6] It is about making better, taking the old and immortalizing it with the constantly changing and developing culture that our world creates. Even if that means the creation of new worlds beyond our imagination. “We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.


[1] Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/art

[2] What Is Art? Why is Art Important? (2018, July 07). Retrieved from https://www.theartist.me/art/what-is-art/

[3] Oculus Quest. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oculus.com/quest/?&utm_source=gg&utm_medium=a_ps&utm_term=oculus&utm_campaign=2018526934&utm_content=354224529967&utm_parent=quest&utm_ad=74385408154&utm_location=1024429&utm_location2=&utm_placement=kwd-308227195178&utm_adposition=1t1&utm_device=c&utm_matchtype=e&utm_feed=&gclid=CInl8cqs4uICFQKExQIdT7MJQQ&gclsrc=ds

[4] Beekman, C. (2019, April 15). The History Of Video Games And The Military. Retrieved from https://taskandpurpose.com/us-militarys-close-history-video-games

[5] Atwell, C. (2017, May 11). 3D Printing and VR: A New Spin on Design and Manufacturing. Retrieved from https://www.machinedesign.com/3d-printing/3d-printing-and-vr-new-spin-design-and-manufacturing

[6] Gilbert, B. (2019, April 16). The effort to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral could get help from an unlikely source: A video game. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/notre-dame-cathedral-assassins-creed-2019-4

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