Virtual Reality (closed, shut in virtual experiences), and Augmented Reality (digital enhancements laid over your real field of view), will have transformative effects on a variety of industries and I personally believe they're the future of fine art. The technology for good Augmented Reality is not quite available for consumer adoption though, and one of the hurdles with Virtual Reality is that it detatches us completely from the real world and can be a bit disorienting since the experiences don't ground you to a physical space. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take VR and combine it with sculptural elements to give the experience an additional level of tactility. For lack of a better term, I've been referring to this as Augmented Virtual Reality. In the near future, as technology improves, it will be easier to create more immersive and interactive Augmented/VR experiences, but for the time being, I think this sort of Augmented Virtual Reality experience is an effective way to combine tactility with virtual spaces.
For my first AVR project, I've 3D printed a sculptural cockpit that the viewer stands in front of and holds on to as they experience a short virtual tour through the world of my paintings and sculpture. The 3D-printed sculpture's form is based on the anatomy of the eye since I thought ocular anatomy for my first project that uses the Oculus Rift would be fun and appropriate. The sculpture is over six feet high and required approximately 75 days of total print time divided across several machines. I had some help from my friends at Bold Machines to get all the parts printed before my deadline and I used my trusty Gigabot printer from the fine folks at Re:3D to get the larger pieces printed. Finishing and assembly time took several weeks alone.
When a viewer enters the virtual experience, they find that the cockpit is replicated virtually but that it is transformed into a fully enclosed, glass EVA vehicle which transports them through a fully realized space habitat. As the airlock doors open, and the Ocular EVA Pod enters space, the viewer sees the other anatomical spacecraft sculptures from my previous exhibition, "The Future is Always Tomorrow" rendered at a thousand feet high, hovering above a small moon. As the EVA flys up and past the other vehicles, the view fades to black and the experience ends.
I designed the VR experience using Unreal Engine and I plan on eventually making it available through Steam. Any physical artwork is available for sale through 101/Exhibit Gallery in Los Angeles.