These days, virtual reality is applied to almost every sector including medicine, engineering, architecture, heritage preservation, marketing and video gaming. Virtual reality blew up on the art scene in recent years changing the whole concept of art and how it is perceived. Last week, an audience at Goethe-Institute got a taste of this new art form—virtual reality enhanced art, writes Meheret-Selassie Mokonnen.
Goethe-Institute Addis Ababa, that hosts arts and culture related events, was crowded with numerous people earlier this week. An event like no other was about to commence and many were eagerly waiting.
There were swivel chairs on every corner each with a virtual reality headset on them. One can choose from a list of short movies and bask in the world of virtual reality—which is one of the most fascinating technologies in the world today.
Samsung virtual reality (VR) gear was dedicated to movies selected from Kenya, Senegal and Ghana.
For most of the audience it was their very first time to experience cinema in the virtual dimension. Some of them were clinging on to the swivel chair in disbelief of the real-like virtual world. There were few people who kept taking off the headset every now and then since what they saw through the glasses was too close the reality around them. They could see the characters in the movies exactly as they were at the scene of the film.
The audience, who can see the 360-degree set of the movie, has the privilege to perceive the entire environment of the movie just by rotating the chair or moving their head. It was a remarkable experience for many, as they wanted to see more movies after trying one or two.
The exhibition “New Dimensions—Virtual Reality Africa” brought forth four African movies: “The Other Dakar” from Senegal, “Spirit Robot” from Ghana and “Let This be a Warning” and “Nairobi Berries” from Kenya. The movies were displayed at Goethe-Institute Addis Ababa and iceaddis for four days.
The computer technology virtual reality uses virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments. These physical environments or props are designed to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate viewer’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. A person using virtual reality equipment can look around this imaginary world.
The technology has evolved to a point that with high quality VR users are able to move around and interact with virtual features.
The virtual reality effect is created by virtual reality headsets consisting of a head-mounted display with a small screen in front of the eyes. The effect can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens.
These days, virtual reality is applied to almost every sector including medicine, engineering, architecture, heritage preservation, marketing and video gaming. It has also been one aspect of the arts sector with its effect that is similar to the real world. Films produced for VR allow the audience to view a 360-degree environment in every scene.
Virtual reality has entered the sporting world and there has been some efforts to transmit matches in VR. It is also a part of kid’s entertainment as some companies has been installing it onto roller coasters.
VR is now a part of surgery training and a 360-degree video is recorded during operations. In regards to education, primary schooling, space, pilot and military trainings are now being given using VR.
In terms of visual arts, there are various exhibitions and festivals dedicated to VR based artistic pieces. Artists are using the VR medium as an optional method to express their ideas and it is attracting a number of audience. Music videos and concerts are now being presented using VR. It is believed VR has created an intense experience to the arts.
According to the organizers, “New Dimensions—Virtual Reality Africa” exhibition is intended to showcase vibrant, diverse and ever-changing cultural landscape of contemporary Africa.
“Spirit Robot” is a nine-minute documentary by Ghanaian science fiction author and founder of the Afrocyberpunk website Jonathan Dotse. In the movie he explored the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra. The festival has been described as a driving factor of art renaissance in the city’s public spaces.