Authors: Ninad Jog and Claudio Esperanca

Virtual Reality can be used either as a novel medium to create interactive and surrealistic art forms or as an instrument that takes the user on a guided tour of existing conventional art. Surrealist artists benefit most from it.

As a novel medium, it has limitless creative potential bacause every shape, space, sound and time can be bent as the user wishes. Just as multimedia heralds the mixing of different media on a computer screen, virtual reality art proclaims an integration of hitherto disparate art forms like paintings, music and moving pictures. Since virtual reality permits scenarios that violate physical laws, its art will let users experience fantasies that have been the stuff of science fiction to date.

Being a nascent technology, virtual reality art is still under the control of technologists rather than artists - a situation that will change as the technology matures. In the non-virtual reality world, scientific data visualization has already established a niche as an art form in its own right, and virtual reality promises to take it further. Walking on the surface of Mars (recreated as a virtual environment on earth) will be both a scientific endevaour and an artistic experience.

Virtual art is at once a technology, a medium and a concept.

The German philosopher Schopenhauer opines that great art has the power to pull its viewer from the real world and become a part of the art. Virtual reality makes it all the much easier to achieve this objective by doing away with the traditional chasm between the passive viewer and the art object.

Several works of virtual art have been created - here are some examples.

At a future date, emotions that are considered intangible like love, hate and jealousy can be quantified by shapes and sizes that float into the virtual world. Other psychedelic scenes like hearing colors or seeing sounds, which are experienced by taking drugs like LSD and marijuana too can be experienced.

There are lots of possibilities - this era is just at the dawn.

References and Suggested Readings:

[PIMENTEL 93] Pimentel, Ken and Teixeira, Kevin, "Virtual Reality, Through The New Looking Glass", intel, Windcrest, McGraw Hill, 1993

[DeFANTI 93] DeFanti, Sandin and Cruz-Neira, "A 'room' with a 'view', IEEE Spectrum, October 1993, pp. 30-33

Internet: Newsgroup sci.virtual-worlds' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list.

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Human Interface Technology Laboratory