VR + Art in Conversation

Isabelle von Locker ’20

If you have yet to put on a pair of VR goggles, I would get on it because virtual reality is the Steph Curry of technology; working fervently and tirelessly to achieve the recognition and appraisal it truly deserves, having now proved itself to be one of the most substantial entities of its generation.

There’s a lot of information out there about VR, so I am pleased to offer here a crash-course overview of the industry, as well as contribute my own two cents upon how virtual reality is influencing entertainment and ~ A R T ~

It is likely that you have already heard the term “virtual reality” muttered somewhere amongst your realm of influence, whether that be in regards to video games on the Oculus Rift or marketing tactics implemented by Fortune 500 companies. The future of VR and entertainment is arguably the most exciting, with virtual reality’s didactic properties and provocative nature curating a niche component of tech that can be used to achieve almost anything.

In the world of art and entertainment, technology and alternate reality is observable in a multitude of facets: one example being the filming of the first immersive, 360 sitcom– something I’m fortunate to be involved in with www.exelauno.co ( **shameless plug** ). Taking on an entirely different realm of production and execution than anything I’ve ever experienced before, the various ways virtual and augmented reality will influence the arts world in the future is palpably evident.

Virtual Reality Film, to say the least, is the hipster cousin of the film industry. It combines the two seemingly opposite production entities of live theater and digital film to bring to light a new, ground-breaking and basic-o-meter-shattering genre of film. There consist many new, interesting avenues in VR film production, one being the necessity of actors to masterfully execute every line of dialogue and blocking perfectly, or the entire episode must be reshot (as there are no separate scenes in 360 video, but rather an ongoing, stitched-together reality). Another noteworthy entity of VR film is the fact that the entire space you are filming in is seen in the shot. Think about it. No one is safe. It’s not 359-degree video, with one degree allotted for the production crew and cameras to hide in. It’s the full 360-degrees, baby. That means that if you are part of the production team, you bet your bottom dollar you are part of the shot. Unity, am I right.

(If you didn’t get the above joke let me interlude my own speal to say that Unity is a development software for VR animation, using C# coding language to create immersive experiences syncable to the Oculus Rift. Yeehaw.)

Now let’s not get too technical– this is Student Committee of the Arts, afterall.

It is important, though, to note that regardless of if you personally find virtual reality ridiculously captivating, or rather, think it is corrupting the world (and removing “real life” from real life and/or leading to a technological-apocalypse-where-artificial-intelligence-turns-humans-into-slaves-and-self-driving-cars-start-stealing-all-of-our-money-and-children type of world), let me ease your anxieties by guiding your attention to this talk by Mark Zuckerberg.

Or if you are disinclined to open yet another tab because life moves at an astronomical pace and we have 99 million problems and no time to deal with them, here is the premise of Zuckerberg’s thoughts on VR and the future:

“Whenever people say that we’re building virtual reality because we’re not satisfied with the one we live in, my answer is, ‘Of course we are,’ And that’s a good thing […] It’s true that nothing is ever going to replace being with someone in person or doing something physical but when we can’t experience those things, when we run up against the limits of reality, VR is going to make our reality that much better.”

Who knew virtual reality would become such a poignant aspect of the future? Art was definitely the last area I anticipated ever seeing such a beautiful relationship with technology form, molding aspects of film and live theater into a new wave of 21st century storytelling.

Obviously no one knows what the future holds, and especially in regards to tech all we can do as humans is predict to the best of our ability… though I am very confident in one thing, and that is that in ten years, our experiential definition of the world in will blow our 2018 minds. And the root of it all will be virtual reality.