By Betty Milonas
Design & Play at RMIT Design Hub explores the interdisciplinary practices of designers and artists in a research-inspired gallery. In collaboration with RMIT School of Media and Communications and the Design Hub, students and researchers are invited to present innovative ideas and digital works in a research environment. Operating as a research project site, the gallery consists of digital media, video, virtual art experiments and creative art practices. Design & Play allowed students and researchers to produce, explore and develop their ideas while also inviting the public to learn and play with the works.
Virtual Reality art and digital exhibitions encourage the visitor to interact and even touch the works, thus, we are no longer just a spectator viewing art. Upon a recent visit to the gallery I had the opportunity to play and interact with VR art, technology, and travel to different dimensions. Many of the artworks in this exhibition are interactive and constructed through technology, sound, projections and digital media.
For instance, James Manning and William Goddard’s AstroSurf is a virtual space screen that creates an orbital experience for the visitor. The large space-like dome is situated in the main gallery that is accompanied with game consoles and cushions inviting us to have a collective experience travelling to space. With the control of the game console we undertake a sensory experience as we follow and play along with the floating meteors. The game console provides us with the option to spin, brake, turn or stabilise the stars as we undertake a fun and orbital experience. We are encouraged to play along with others as we view the overhead projection installed inside the dome. Accompanied with electronic sound playing in the background, we travel into space while watching the colourful and playful stars collide. During the interactive experience we forget about our everyday surroundings and enjoy the joyful journey created in AstroSurf.
Another interactive and VR technology is presented in Out of Space developed by Adam Nash and Stefan Greuter. The work explores virtual space through the creation of abstract and cubic-like images paired with ambient sound. The image against the wall is a flat abstract projection that is constructed in a circular frame. Out of Space uses headphones and VR headsets that allow us to experience space in real time. Once we put on the VR headset, the images shift into another dimension, creating a virtual environment. While wearing the VR headset we are embodied with the sensation of entering a virtual world, enticing the feeling of falling and flying through the 3D shapes. The notion of infinity is created since we cannot feel the objects – instead, sound, space and colour become part of our virtual experience. Out of Space activates our senses, making us aware of our own surroundings and also becoming self-conscious of our movements in virtual space.
Design and Play references VR art and digital exhibitions by inviting the visitor to explore and experience the works in real time. The exhibition provides us with the opportunity to have fun but also learn about virtual realities and understand the various creations of technology that are developed and produced by students and researchers.
Currently shown at RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne, Australia
For further information, please visit: www.designhub.rmit.edu.au and http://designhub.rmit.edu.au/exhibitions-programs/designandplay