By Julia Buntaine
Editor in Chief
One of the conundrums those in arts journalism constantly face is the inability to truly capture a work of art through documentation - documentation is how we share our favorite art with our readers. We choose the best photos we can get, and use descriptions to supplement, knowing it always falls short of the in-real-life experience. It sounds strange to say that some of my favorite works of art are pieces I've never seen in person - Maman by Louise Bourgeois, Water and Bonsai by Azuma Makoto, or Stranger Visions by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, to name a few - but it's not really strange at all, considering the number of images we consume on the Internet daily. More often than not, geography keeps me from the emergent in-real-life aesthetic experience I know awaits. This was not the case today, when I moved through a gallery from my office chair.
"v r 3" is the inaugural exhibit in a gallery with no physical location. Created by artist Pippin Barr, assistant professor of design and computation arts and Concordia University, "v r 3" explores the varied potentials of digitized water. Water is a notably difficult visual to render in video game environments, so Barr, inspired by the software Unity's "professional water" shaders, went to work.
Barr notes on his website: "Water is perhaps the archetypal technology we use to assess how "good" a game engine or game is in terms of realism, a kind of benchmark. I liked the idea of a speculative future in which, rather than playing a game with water in it, people would choose to simply contemplate the water itself as an activity. Thus "v r 3" represents a museum/gallery experience where the audience pays attention to water..."
After walking around the gallery for a while, reading various pedestal labels like "UtopiaWorx: Hard Water, 2016. Shader. $4.99" I took a stroll outside to visit the edges of this new world I found myself in. And quickly reached the edge, where simulated 3D breaks down.
Delightfully novel, odd, and playful, "v r 3" combines nostalgic graphics with a cutting-edge viewing experience, a sure recipe for charm. It also raises big questions about the future of art and aesthetic experience as new technologies make our virtual world a place artists can increasingly create in. I can't wait to see the next iteration.
Want to see for yourself? Download "v r 3" on your Mac or PC here.