Gazelli Art House for me is really trying to push the inclusion of digitally based art in their exhibition schedule. Every time I go back there’s a new show with a digital twist. This time was phenomenal but at the same time bizarre and worrying.
I’m a huge advocate for Virtual Reality in fine art… of course… but there was a practical issue that many on the course had noticed at Jon Rafman’s exhibition.
The gallery had become an arcade or funfair, where the audience are queueing to experience the work. At Jon Rafman, the anticipation was created by the scale of the maze and the works in the other rooms. This meant that you didn’t mind queueing (it was also my first experience with a headset), however in Gazelli, there were 3 extraordinary VR experiences in two small rooms. Each experience had a long queue and it really did put you off. The redeeming feature was the reaction of those coming out from the headsets. You can see in the way they move and react to others around them that they feel as if they’ve truly been somewhere else.
The piece I most enjoyed was an experience that played on the idea of crossing between physical and digital space. The artist stood next to a plinth with a small cardboard house. You stand in front of the model, put on the headset, and all of a sudden (as is the wonder of VR,) you’re in the same room but alone, without a body and the little house is glowing. I haven’t had the opportunity to get the Oculus Rift head tracker working with a Mac yet. Unfortunately its a known issue so I’ll to wait for a powerful PC. This experience used the head tracking beautifully. As you peer into the windows of the house, you’re suddenly transported inside, where there are paintings and sculptures to see. Another technical aspect worth mentioning was the perfect alignment of a lever on the plinth and the lever in the experience. You don’t have any hands in the experience, so reaching out for a lever should be difficult to co-ordinate… but it was exactly where it was in reality. Very well mapped.
The experiences themselves are in many ways Gimmicky. Its such an exciting medium in an early stage so the content created is going to be simple and crude. (this may be a mad comment) but it reminds me of the impressionists with tubed oil paints. Look what they ended up creating!
Definitely worth seeing this show. Though I’m not sure about the Title. Lends itself to much to medium over concept, and plays on the famous phrase “Exit Through the Gift Shop”