Workshop: VR & Art on NRW-Forum Düsseldorf 2021

As part of the research project "Developing esthesis in Virtual Reality: cartographies of students’ sensitive experiences through Art", which is being held at the Chair of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Bonn, one workshop was conducted with Higher Education students from 16th. November to 07th December 2021 at the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf. The starting point was the NRW-Forum past exhibition "Welcome to Paradise" (https://www.nrw-forum.de/en/exhibitions/welcome-to-paradise). During the workshop, students developed an artistic project in VR with Tilt Brush, associated with the exhibition theme (Immersive fictional worlds, humankind, nature, dreams, utopia, and dystopia). 

You can see more about the exhibition below and on NRW-Forum's website.

Welcome to Paradise 

(27 August 2021 - 9 January 2022)

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The world is changing: between global catastrophes and rapid technological progress, humankind is creating new digital spaces for dreams and utopias. What does it mean to be human in this new world, and what if this dream landscape becomes a nightmare?

The exhibition Willkommen im Paradies (Welcome to Paradise) is an immersive, interactive project that transports visitors into fictional worlds between utopia and dystopia.

Source: NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

NRW-Forum Düsseldorf · Ehrenhof 2 · D - 40479 Düsseldorf

About the workshop

In the workshop, students worked from 3 to 4 meetings (from 1:30 to 2:00 of working time), by exploring the artistic potentialities of the Tilt Brush tool and developing their first narrative prototype in VR. Thus, before students started working on their prototype, it was held a guided visit to the exhibition "Welcome to Paradise", in order for them to reflect and search for visual references for their own work.

The first meeting was just dedicated to knowing the tool better and to explore what are the possibilities and what could be done with it. In the next meetings, students worked on planning a scenario based on 360º vision, reflecting on which elements could be added to suggest spatial immersion, and also, how to guide observers' view and attention to the main elements of the narrative environment.

In the end, students developed their own narrative prototype, while solving problems and raising new questions related to Tilt Brush's aesthetics.

In the following, you can find a few images of the students' processes with Tilt Brush and also a video together with a small description written by students about their VR projects. Soon, these artworks will be displayed here as VR 360º videos to be seen with any type of VR device.

Tilt Brush

Before presenting the results of the workshop, it's also important to clarify what's the Tilt Brush tool and how it is been used by artists and designers.

Tilt Brush app was first released in 2015 by the developers Skillman & Hacket and it's currently available for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, Valve Index, and Playstation VR.  Developed by Google, Tilt Brush app offers users the opportunity to create 3D paintings (and also sculptures) directly while immersed in the virtual space of VR.  In order to accurately traces patterns in the 3D environment, Tilt Brush works together with the headset, two tracked handheld controllers and, two tracking beacons. The app offers then 24 types of brushstrokes, some of them presenting dynamics features, which makes animations' simulations feasible. The user/artist has the possibility to change textures, intensity, and shading effects of the predesigned brushes. The "Dynamic Brushes", on the other hand, include others designer stroke options, such as ‘hypercolor’, ‘thick paint’ and ‘rainbow’ (Sharma, 2016). Users/artists can also change the background appearance, as well as adjust the size, effects, and colours of the brushes by using a virtual handheld pallete.

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According to Chittenden (2018, pp. 396 ) "A Tilt Brush brushstroke differs from a pigment line in that it implicates the act of throwing across and, therefore, indicates the movement of a body or a brush through space and time; the painter ‘throws’ the brushstroke in a trajectory across the physical–virtual threshold. The act of painting is a major constituent part of the resulting image; visual attention is directed to the movement of the body through space and even more so when onlookers cannot see what is being painted. Tilt Brush encourages a full body performance within a 4D canvas (to include time as an integral part of the painting)".

Virtual handheld pallete (Photo: by Roberta Gerling Moro

Chittenden, T. (2018), ‘Tilt Brush painting: Chronotopic adventures in a physical-virtual threshold’, Journal of Contemporary Painting, 4:2, pp. 381–403, https://doi.org/10.1386/jcp.4.2.381_1

Sharma, R. (2016), ‘Google Tilt Brush: 5 things to know’, Times of India, 16 May, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/more-gadgets/Google-Tilt-Brush-5-things-to-know/articleshow/52294586.
cms.
Accessed 14 January 2022.

Students' artworks

Amber Theisen (Kunstakademie Düsseldorf)

Interim Space

Während der Zusammenarbeit im VR Workshop habe ich mich mit der Frage beschäftigt, wie wir unsere Umgebung beeinflussen. Eine „unberührte Natürlichkeit“ scheint in unserem Alltag nicht mehr zu existieren. Stattdessen bewegen wir uns in aus Berührungen geschaffenen Orten.

Um diese Charakterisierung von Environment in Virtual Reality zu erforschen, habe ich mir das Ziel gesetzt, einen „berührten“ Ort in die Virtualität zu übersetzen.  Dazu nutzte ich fotografische Eindrücke eingebettet in einer natürlich anmutenden, aber gleichzeitig zutiefst künstlichen Umgebung. Ineinander verwoben ergeben die dokumentarischen Elemente und die in Tilt Brush modellierten Formen einen fragmentarischen Raum, der Virtualität und Realität, Drinnen und Draußen, in einen Zwischenort übersetzt.
 

Es gibt keine lineare Narration, die durch das Environment führt. Stattdessen wird dazu eingeladen, die Umgebung selbst zu erforschen.   

EN

While participating in the workshop I asked myself some questions about how I perceive my daily surroundings; How every contact leaves an impression behind and makes up the entire environment I encounter. My aim was to build a space between imprints. Therefore, I used photographic impressions and merged them together with an artificial nature created in Tilt Brush. Together they form a fragment of a room in between that connects reality and virtuality - the inside and the outside.

There is no linear narration leading the user through the interim space. Instead, everyone is invited to explore the virtual environment themselves and to connect the traces on their own.

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Interim Space

(Text: by Amber Theisen)

Interim Space (Video)

Yuliana Mosheeva (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf)

White Box

Mich hat der Text “WHITE CUBE UND BLACK BOX. DIE FARBMETAPHSIK DES KUNSTBEGRIFFS” von Hito Steyerl zu dem Video inspiriert. Steyerl analysiert die diskursiven Formationen rund um den White Cube, einen schlichten weißen Raum, in dem traditionell u.A. Kunst ausgestellt wird. Dieser Raum wird mit Ordnung und dem apollonischen Prinzip assoziiert. Dem gegenüber steht die Black Box, das Dispositiv des Kinos. Sie wird mit dem dionysischen Prinzip verbunden, mit dem Konsum “trivialer” Unterhaltung, ja sogar mit der Befriedigung libidinöser Triebe.

In dem Video begebe ich mich abwechselnd jeweils in einen dieser Modi, befinde mich teilweise aber auch in beiden gleichzeitig. Ich versuche herauszufinden, wie eine Überwindung dieser Dichotomie sich anfühlt, bzw. dies zu visualisieren. Das Ziel ein Gefühl aufzunehmen und zu teilen verfolge ich, indem ich die VR Brille, also mein Sichtfeld, wie eine Kamera nutze. Da die filmische Kamera ein bewährtes Mittel ist Perspektive zu teilen und ich glaube, dass dieser Effekt mithilfe von VR intensiviert werden kann.

EN

White Box

I was inspired by the text "WHITE CUBE AND BLACK BOX. DIE FARBMETAPHSIK DES KUNSTBEGRIFFS" by Hito Steyerl to make the video. Steyerl analyses the discursive formations around the white cube, a plain white room in which art, among other things, is traditionally exhibited. This space is associated with order and the Apollonian principle. This is contrasted with the black box, the dispositif of cinema. It is associated with the Dionysian principle, with the consumption of "trivial" entertainment, even with the satisfaction of libidinous urges.

In the video, I alternately enter one of these modes, but sometimes also find myself in both at the same time. I try to find out what overcoming this dichotomy feels like, or to visualize it. I pursue the goal of recording and sharing a feeling by using the VR glasses, i.e. my field of vision, like a camera. Since the cinematic camera is a proven means of sharing perspective, I believe that this effect can be intensified with the help of VR.

(Text: by Yuliana Mosheeva)

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White Box (Video)

Alexandra Tamayo (Internationale Filmschule Köln )

I Sea U

Follow the adventure of a young marine biologist in her encounter with Hope, a female whale shark visiting Galapagos islands. ​"I Sea U" is an underwater emotional experience about connection and changing perspectives. Inspired by the marine wildlife of my homeland Ecuador, this VR experience tells a reality based story.  Science-based data visualization is combined with media art to create an emotional pathway to understanding this political, economic, and social underwater connection.
The VR experience is an interactive linear narrative that takes the user into the emotional self-reflection journey of meeting a giant wild animal underwater. The piece immerses the user in this exciting science-based artistic experience full of hope and imagination. 

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(Text: by Alexandra Tamayo)

I Sea U (Video)

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf  for the Cooperation and for all the support and kind attention during this research phase. Special thanks to Alain Bieber, Bernadette Färber and Alina Fuchte, who helped me so much to make this happen.

I also would like to thank Amber, Yuliana, and Alexandra for taking part in the workshop, as well in the research project. Thanks for your effort, I've learned a lot from you!

Finally, and very important, a special thanks to Prof. Dr. Jens Schröter, who has been supporting me during this project and always keeps motivating me to continue. 

I dedicate this project to my mother (R.I.P), my dad and stepmother, and to my dearest supervisor Prof. Dr. Maria Cristina Biasuz.

* This project is  funded by Kofinanziertes Forschungskurzstipendium Brasilien 2021/DAAD