XR ART: PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF TRADITIONAL ART FORMS?!
In recent years, we’ve witnessed a growing fascination with the relationship between XR (extended reality) and art. XR is an umbrella term for immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). XR art is a form of artistic expression that combines game-like technologies or tools to create immersive and interactive experiences for the audience. But how does XR transform the way we experience art, and is it just another form of digital art?
In researching this topic and creating projects in VR, I found that there are significant gaps in my knowledge and the literature about games as art. Maybe that's because art in games is expressed in some other way like through blogs or in videos, or that games can now have their own published books showing the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into games. Or maybe I'm just a terrible researcher. Nonetheless, I believe that XR is valuable and transformative, so much so that you're willing to overcome the barriers to experience it and enjoy it.
Games as Art
First, let's tackle the question of whether games can be considered art. While some, like famous movie critic Roger Ebert, argue that video games are not art because they require player input and forfeit the creator's control over their work, others, like author C. Thi Nguyen, defend the idea that games are a form of agency as art. The truth is that games can tell powerful stories and evoke deep emotions, just like any other form of art.
AI and Blockchain Confusion
Before we dive further into XR art, it's important to note that XR is different from other technologies like AI art and blockchain non-fungible tokens. While these are interesting and relevant topics, they don't fall under the XR art umbrella we talking about. Some may argue that digital art, video games, or AI-generated art are not "real" art. However, the truth is that art is constantly evolving, and XR art is no exception. By blending the physical and digital worlds and breaking down the barriers of distance, language, and culture, XR art offers new opportunities for accessibility, inclusivity, and democratization of the art world.
Is Digital Art Even Art?
The switch to digital art didn't happen overnight. As Christopher Cant and friend of the channel pointed out in his blog post, “Is Digital Art real Art, or is it Cheating?” on selfemployedartist.com, the digital art process simplifies or removes the non-creative parts of making art - mixing together the right colours, fixing errors, waiting for paint to dry, etc. It keeps the creative parts of making art intact - things like designing the composition, constructing correct perspective and forms, rendering convincing light and shadow. This means digital art is very much real art and is not cheating.
A Case for Why XR Matters in All This
XR art takes digital art to a whole new level by combining physical elements that give rise to presence and immersion. XR exhibits like 'Rain Room' and XR experience 'Treehugger: Wawona' allow viewers to interact with environments and ecosystems in ways that would be impossible in traditional art forms. As XR art becomes more prevalent, we're seeing new forms of storytelling emerge, such as the immersive theater production 'The Under Presents.'
The artist's role in the world of XR art is crucial. Artists must master both the traditional skills of their craft and the technical skills necessary to create immersive experiences. By combining these skills, artists can create new forms of expression that transcend traditional mediums and push the boundaries of what is possible.
XR art is an exciting and transformative form of artistic expression that offers new opportunities for accessibility, inclusivity, and democratization of the art world. As the technology behind XR art continues to evolve, so too will the artistic possibilities. Artists and creators have an important role to play in shaping the future of XR art and exploring the new forms of expression that are emerging.