Styles and Customs of the 2020’s – A Dystopian VR Fine Art Exhibit of the Near Future

How do new photographic technologies shape the virtual realm? This is the question explored by Scatter and four visionary, international artists, Kim Laughton, Rachel Rossin, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, and Alan Warburton at the Carnegie Museum of Art‘s grandiose Hall of Architecture this spring and summer. Styles and Customs of the 2020s is a dystopian room scale VR art installation commissioned by the Hillman Photographic Initiative and prompted by collaboratively generated text published by DIS magazine.

Guided and supported by Scatter, each artist was commissioned to conjure a unique dystopian VR portal into the not so distant future. The impetus for each of the artist’s resulting VR worlds were prompted by snippets of text judiciously selected by each of the artists from a collaborative writing project commissioned by DIS. Subsequently, each VR world is a unique, beautiful, and slightly unsettling experience, yet all share decontextualized threads torn from the fabric of the original source text. The interrelated VR pieces are not passive experiences; the worlds require the viewer to physically move within the VR space to completely unwrap hidden meanings, mechanics, and messages. The four near future VR worlds are connected by a timeless, VR, fire lit cave. The cave functions as gateway of sorts from which the participant gently enters and exits the separate artists’ realities and acts as an interstitial respite between the dystopian VR words.

Vermont Digital Arts‘, Elliott Mitchell, had the good fortune to work with the cutting edge innovators at Scatter and DIS, as well as the four talented fine artists on this ambitious VR art project. Having roots in the fine arts as well as game development, Elliott contributed to Styles and Customs of the 2020s in the role of Technical Director and Lead Developer.

Styles and Customs of the 2020s opened March 16th and will run until September 4th at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh where you can experience the exhibit in person. Not wanting to spoil the joy of discovery for those of you who have yet to visit the museum, we have been intentionally vague in our descriptions of the artist’s VR worlds. After the exhibit concludes, we will post an update with more detailed images, videos and descriptions covering the breadth of the exhibit. If you wish to read more about the exhibit now, take a look here.

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Björk Digital – Virtual Reality Taken To A New Level

Musical pioneer and artist extraordinaire, Björk, has been diving head first into Virtual Reality with her traveling art exhibit Björk Digital. The VR exhibit is a work in progress which features four VR music experiences from Björk’s “Vulnicura” album. Our resident artist, Elliott Mitchell, was fortunate enough to have had a small role working with environment art on one of the VR pieces. Checkout this video clip from Björk’s Instagram account which includes some of Elliott’s handy work!

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Waggle Words is Coming!

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You and me and baby makes three. And another baby makes four. And two cats and two dogs and six chickens makes fourteen. And then Mama decides she wants honey bees and the total soars to somewhere around 25,000. That’s the family that makes up Vermont Digital Arts.

You could say that we are all the worker bees. Papa is an artist and programmer and does most of the technical work at Vermont Digital Arts. Mama is the Queen Bee who sits back and is fed royal jelly all day … oh no, wait, that was my fantasy. No, Mama flits from one thing to the next, writing, designing, organizing, keeping the hive running. The two youngest humans in the family make games, stories, art and music.

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One day the youngest human thought that it would be cool to have a game that was a cross between Spell Tower (http://www.spelltower.com/) and Chip Chain (http://chip-chain.com/), so a meeting was called. Everyone (except the chickens and the bees) gathered around the dinner table and talked about what such a game would look like. Mama took notes and then a few days later made a paper prototype. Being a beekeeper, she used hexagons to make a honeycomb board and took the name Waggle Words from the movements that bees make to communicate with each other which is called a “waggle dance”.  

The family decided that Papa, a trained artist who wanted to hone his programming skills, would engineer the game himself. Learning how to program requires time, patience and extra baking. Thankfully, Papa was up to the task of learning and Eldest Child who loves to bake kept everyone happy with lots of treats.

Finally the Vermont Digital Arts family has a playable game. We are so excited about how Waggle Words is turning out. It is a super fun, strategic, single-player word game AND it will also be a groundbreaking multi-player VR game. Just wait!

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