A unique and enjoyable (virtual) treat
An Introduction to Virtual Reality Arts - Surrealism, Warwick Arts Centre, to Feb 4
I didn’t know what to expect when I set out to view the surrealist works of Hieronymus Bosch and Rene Magritte through the medium of virtual reality, but I left the Helen Martin Studio feeling that the experience had been truly wonderful.
It starts in a neon-lit space with only a centrepiece of computers and electrical equipment, where the hosts prepare you for what proves to be an immersive, visually impressive ride through the evolution of surrealism.
I say ride because, to all intents and purposes, you really do move!
Beginning with Bosch’s famous Garden of Earthly Delights, you are taken on a journey through his vision, and watch the characters that people it come to life. The trip is split into three parts, as is the painting, and the quirky visuals of Bosch’s Garden of Eden, delightful and humorous, stand in stark contrast to the final vision of Hell - unsettling, but a little flat in comparison to the two which went before.
The visual experience reaches its peak in the second half of the display, focusing on the remarkable works of Rene Magritte.
His famous floating men are all around you as you too float through the sky, gazing at his landscapes before you embark on a train ride through the canvas (all while never leaving your seat).
An astonishing amount of care and attention has gone into the display. The animation of the paintings and the accompanying music, are carefully thought through, and contribute perfectly to a fully immersive experience.
There are some kinks to iron out: Switching between menus and displays can be distracting, but this is a minor issue for what was a thoroughly enjoyable, and unique treat.