First Look: Artists' VR

New Museum virtual reality app now available for download, at no cost

Art East Technology
New Museum virtual reality app available for download, at no cost. Rachel Rossin's Man Mask. (Courtesy the artists and the New Museum)
New Museum virtual reality app available for download, at no cost. Rachel Rossin's Man Mask. (Courtesy the artists and the New Museum)

The New Museum has created a new app showcasing mobile virtual reality artworks. Developed in coalition with Rhizome—an art organization affiliated with the New Museum since 2003 that specializes in art and network technologies—the app showcases the exhibition First Look: Artists’ VR.

Theapp-cum-exhibition six artists—Jeremy Couillard, Jayson Musson, Peter Burr, Rachel Rossin, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Jon Rafman—who undertook experimental approaches to digital animation in virtual reality. The result, according to the New Museum, reflects both the possibilities and difficulties faced when working with such a media platform.

First Look: Artists’ VR presents a wide range of art that can be construed as social commentaries. These include: “A memorial to victims of police violence (Musson); an uncanny scenario of deconstructed video game characters (Rossin); a queer fantasia set in an industrial nightclub (Satterwhite); a mutating labyrinth populated with writhing figures (Burr, with Porpentine); a simulation of the afterlife (Couillard); and an unsettling dive into an alternate world rife with avatars both banal and magical (Rafman).”

New Museum Virtual Reality app

Jacolby Satterwhite’s Domestika. (Courtesy the artist and the New Museum)

The First Look exhibition series focuses on art in digital mediums and is now in its fifth year. Also cementing the New Museum’s status within the world of virtual art is NEW INC. Another digital, artistic arm of the museum, NEW INC, has been an incubator for those dabbling in virtual reality and other digital arts.

The VR medium is quickly spreading in the realm of architecture exhibits too. Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design, currently on view at the Jewish Museum, places audiences into virtual rooms from Chareau’s 1932 dwelling, the Maison de Verre in Paris. The VR movement, though, in terms of its artistic role, is still in its infancy. “I would say that there is a real swell of interest in VR right now as it becomes more attainable,” said Lauren Cornell, a New Museum curator, speaking to The Creators Project at Vice. “That said, it’s costly and challenging to negotiate distribution and exhibition. It remains to be seen how truly accessible a medium it will be.”

The First Look: ArtistsVR app is available to download for free from the Google Play store. An iOS app meanwhile, is apparently on its way.

Related Stories