Looking at recent Virtual Reality (VR) artistic development projects, at V2_ and elsewhere, one could wonder what happened to the promises of wild cybersex, psychedelic virtual experiences, and utopian parallel realities that VR exponents made. Decades after artists were first introduced to VR, the technology has indeed resulted in new immersive art experiences that most people have experienced at some point. However, do these experiences live up to the visions that artists had when VR first emerged?
It seems that advances in VR have taken several unexpected turns. One of these turns is the shift in attention away from purely virtual experiences towards the more hybrid experiences offered by Augmented Reality (AR), in which virtual elements overlay our physical reality. Also, recent developments allow access to such realities in places far removed from lab and home environments, and without the bulky technology attached to our bodies that accompanied early VR.
How do these developments influence our future visions of VR? Does the future still hold parallel realities accessible from our homes; or rather a single one that is virtually enhanced and part of our everyday urban environment? Does full-blooded immersion in the future perhaps take more physical involvement than we expected at first? Will we even be able to note the technology in future VR, or will it be seamlessly integrated in our body and environment? Are we still pursuing experiences that are better than reality; or are we trying to make reality better instead?
Most certainly, answers to these questions will show that Virtual Reality’s esthetic possibilities have changed enormously during recent years. By demonstrating state-of-the-art AR and VR artworks and by discussing those in the light of the promises made by early VR visionaries, Test_Lab: Better than Reality will explore these changed possibilities for the arts.
The V2_ Better than Reality artist-in-residence projects by Marnix de Nijs, Boris Debackere, and Jonas Hielscher will also be open to the public at V2_ on November 12th from 11h-16h.
For more information, please contact
Michel van Dartel
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