The New Frontier for Artists: Virtual Reality by Brian Howe

photo by Alex Boerner / design by Shan Stumpf


I'm still not rich enough to shell out for an actual VR HMD of my very own, but, as someone who has long been interested in the metaphysics of virtual reality and simulations in general, I get my hands on the technology in my journalism whenever I have the chance. In 2013, I went to various Triangle universities and played with their toys to write a long story focusing on DiVE, a CAVE at Duke University. In 2016, I went back to Duke to see what they could do with an HMD, and explored a virtual ruins in Brazil. Last week, I got to think through another potential path of VR: visual art, in a story on Tyler Jackson's exhibit at Lump, Before the War. Here's the nut:

"The story of VR began millennia ago, when humans first drew a boundary in space and agreed to imagine that whatever transpired inside it was set apart from the rest of reality—a world within a world. We call this device a frame when it outlines two dimensions, a stage when it outlines three. In the twentieth century, it flattened and deepened into screens that, with a certain inevitability, are becoming permeable in the twenty-first. Now we face the question of whether we'll soon reach the logical conclusion and lock the virtual door behind us."

Read it in INDY Week.

Interview: Meredith Monk by Brian Howe

"I always wanted to push through to new ways of doing things in relation to the human voice, the most ancient instrument. I had a feeling of its primal power. At the same time, I was also working with combining these different elements into one form. A lot of people weren’t working that way. I feel like I was always trying to work between the cracks of what we think of as art-forms to find another form."

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Interview: John Luther Adams by Brian Howe

"It’s funny, this is only the second time I’ve used my field recordings in a finished piece, although I have hundreds of hours of them. I don’t often use that material itself. Maybe it’s partly out of reverence for the sounds themselves and the forces or animals that make them. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to create something that is somehow a parallel world; that, as Stieglitz the photographer would have said, is some kind of equivalent, not the thing itself or an illustration of it."

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