20 Apr 2017
VR in art

Virtual Reality: but is it art?

Can tech be art? 

Art is no longer about ‘paint by numbers’. It’s now moving towards ‘paint by tech’, as virtual reality has become an increasing presence in the art world.

With its roots firmly planted in the ancient world, art has been used to capture a moment in time for centuries. However, the paintbrush has been replaced, and the canvas has changed.

Is the art world ready for a tech invasion? Let’s take a look at the emergence of VR in art.


A brush with technology 

There is one question that immediately arises when thinking about technology and virtual reality combining with truly creative types of people: when it comes to creating beautiful artwork, is it really about artistic talent, or technical know-how?

Up steps Google to show what is possible.

It has been easing artists into the world of VR through its Tilt Brush – the world’s first app for painting in a 3D world with virtual reality.  Users, including professional artists, have already created amazing detailed works.

Interestingly, you don’t need to be a gamer to use it. It is actually about being an artist rather than a computer whizz – exactly how it should be. According to those who have used it, after only a few basic instructions, users are off and running.

In fact, it has turned the concept on its head. Using the art app actually teaches people how to use VR, as opposed to users needing to be well versed in the technology in order to create art. Fast Company has a great review of the app.

Current artists seem ready to embrace VR too, and the movement is gathering pace.

According to artist Matteo Zamagni, this technology is the future. In a recent interview with The Memo, he concluded:

“Modern art became so conceptual that it’s always hard to grasp its idea when you’re in front of it, but by embedding tech into ideas, then a new world of possibilities opens up: this is just the beginning.”


In the eye of the beholder

Virtual Reality is not only changing the way we create art, but also how we view it.

Whilst paintings have often remained behind the velvet ropes of art galleries, unable to be touched, and only enjoyed from afar, VR is now set to turn that on its head.

Donning headsets, exhibition or gallery visitors are encouraged to ‘play’ with the artwork and their surroundings. There is even the possibility of VR bringing every artist’s work into every person’s home.

From the British Museum to the Guggenheim, museums have already used the magic of virtual reality technology to create virtual experiences for the masses. It is no surprise that art galleries are following the trend.


But is it art? 

This bringing together of the creative and the innovative is shaking up the traditional. This really is a case of technology disruption, but can we really say what is created is art?

The debate around ‘modern art’ has raged for decades. Art has always been about pushing boundaries, of creating something new, of making you think.

Maybe it’s time we celebrated the artistic beauty of technology.