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When Technology Collides with Art

By Tom Le Sueur

Last year, Snap and virtual reality (VR) experts, Virtex Studios, joined forces to unleash FLUX ZERO onto the Island.

This pop-up event showcased exhibits from 10 local artists, who stepped out of their comfort zones and into the virtual space to try their hands at new forms of artistic expression.

Harnessing the power of VR, the artists created three-dimensional exhibits that existed all around the audience, offering the feeling of total immersion. FLUX ZERO provided many Islanders with their first glimpse into the limitless world of VR technology.

Following the success of FLUX ZERO, we went back to the drawing board to plan how we could further explore the VR/art concept. Of course, we would have never been content with a simple rehash of the first project!

While we were developing ideas, a perfect storm of events took place which shaped the evolution of FLUX.

Peter Taylor-Fitch of PTF Motion joined the fold. Pete was a massive help during the first FLUX event and we knew that access to his video production and editing expertise and 360 cameras would be an asset for future events. It made sense to invite him to become an official member of the collective.

We also had a chance encounter with the artist Nick Romeril, who had been offered the opportunity of a lifetime. As the 2018 artist in residence for the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute, he was to join the research teams on board the HMS Protector on a voyage through the Antarctic Peninsula.

Inspired by news of Nick’s adventure, we began dreaming up epic landscapes of snow and ice, floating icebergs, and crystal blue waters. Nick’s sons, Danny and Will, had both been involved in FLUX ZERO too, which had piqued his interest in VR tech. We saw an opportunity to team up.

Armed with our new 360 cameras and some filming tips from Pete, Nick set off on a 3,500-mile journey into the unknown. We had no idea what footage he would come back with!

Shot by Nick and edited by Pete, the VR films and 2D documentary act as a visual diary, cinematic experience, and study of Nick’s artistic method. We launched the videos alongside 20 of Nick’s paintings and studies as part of the exhibition, Breaking Ice, for Skipton Open Studios 2018.

Featuring stunning Antarctic landscapes, the paintings are detailed, textured and vibrant.

The VR experience offered an extra layer of immersion to the exhibition by allowing the audience to see the inspiration behind the exhibits with their own eyes.