New Virtual and Augmented Realities Exhibition Pushes the Cutting Edge of Tech, Art

Published : Friday, October 12, 2018 | 5:05 AM

[Updated] A new art exhibition that explores the burgeoning technologies of virtual and augmented reality as media for creativity and expression opens this weekend in Pasadena.

“Spacial Reality” at the sp[a]ce gallery at Ayzenberg, 39 E. Walnut Street, features more than two-dozen artists who endeavor to push the boundaries of art by espousing the cutting edge of technology, exhibit producer and curator Jesse Damiani said.

Following a grand opening Friday from 7 to 10 p.m., the exhibit will be open Saturday and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. through Oct. 28.

In planning the show, Damiani said he had two primary goals in mind.

One was to position VR and AR art as the same caliber as any other type of fine art, and give it the same type of reverence and the same type of gallery exhibition as you give any type of fine art,” he said. “Then secondly, I wanted to democratize who could see it, because right now, one of the barriers to VR and AR art is it’s expensive.”

Visitors won’t just look at the art, they will experience it and engage with it, organizers said.

“The gallery is full of art that literally comes alive or pops out of the canvas through augmented reality,” the gallery organizers said in a written statement.

“Kevin Mack is an Oscar-winning visual effects artist who has started doing art full time, focusing especially on VR,” according to the statement. “For ‘Spatial Reality,’ he’s created a stunning, rainbow-colored cave-like world people can literally fly through.”

Another exhibit, called “Moon Bloom,” is a story-driven game in which players interact with virtual reality objects directly with their hands, the statement added.

“What I’m trying to do with this show is showcase the full spectrum of convergent technologies in terms of how we’ll use them in the future,” Damiani said.

When it comes to VR and AR technology, Damiani said society is currently at a “VHS moment.”

“… Where consumer technology is finally available, and it’s already revolutionized our thinking, the same way VHS revolutionized thinking around home entertainment,” he said.

“So what’s really exciting about doing this show is that the artists are the people at the vanguard,” he added. “It’s just beginning to take shape.”

Some of the pieces on display are what Damiani called “augmented reality prints.”

“There’s a 13-foot-long canvas prints in the building right now that has 10 AR integrations baked into the print,” he explained. “So when you download the app, called Hijack, and you aim it at a particular place on this print, an augmented scene will play out inside of that print on your phone or device. So you actually are seeing this separate reality emerge from within what is otherwise just a beautiful big print on a wall. So that’s an example of an AR print.”

Another artwork is a canvas print matched with a projector, Damiani said. “The way (the artist) augmented the print with a projector makes it look like it’s a living thing.”

In a “site specific” installation, an artist created a virtual reality version of a room that actually exists at the gallery, giving guests a unique experience that blurs the lines between VR and the tangible world.

“Every one of these things blows my mind and I’m around this all the time,” Damiani said.

General admission tickets are free. They guarantee the holder admission on the ticketed day, but the specific time is subject to availability, organizers said.

VIP tickets are available for $45 and allow guests to forego the wait.

More information is available online at space.ayzenberg.com.

“I’m just really thrilled that this exists and I’m really thrilled it exists in Pasadena,” Damiani said. “The Pasadena community is really welcoming and I’m excited to see the faces that come out.”