VR: Redefining Installation

Marking a first in digital public art, striking Virtual Reality drawings made by multidisciplinary artist Nancy Baker Cahill are displayed on the huge digital billboards located on the eponymous Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Six pairs of digital films taken from the artist’s experimental VR compositions are being played every hour at 10-minute intervals at the Sunset Strip location in West Hollywood.

The project is presented by IF Innovation Foundation, a California-based initiative known for bringing contemporary art into the landscape through the Public Domain programme, which produces and presents curatorial interventions in experimental contexts. Acclaimed for immersive graphite drawings and videos which include themes of the body and its unknowability come to the fore, Baker Cahill is interested in the concepts of empathy and compassion and the ways that they help us understand humanity’s shared experience of strength, vulnerability, discomfort and defiance.

VR, the medium that puts viewers literally inside new and unfamiliar situations, seems like the perfect next step in this trajectory, and is it through this outlet that she has been able to expand and amplify the analogue works in new and pioneering directions. This has been furthered by collaborating with Drive Studios, who helped to develop original sound design and glacial animation to intensify the experience of the display. Bringing these previously two-dimensional pieces to life gives audiences the ability to experience the illustrations in the same way they might a sculpture or an installation. Brightly coloured shapes shift and whirl in abstraction, offering an innovative and eye-catching set of works, which provide an alternate and progressive reality to the frenetic streets they overlook.

“Cahill is a pioneer in so many ways”, says the organisation’s Curator, Jessica Rich. “Certainly technologically, but more importantly in her restraint. By abstractly deconstructing an explosive physical event or a nuanced emotion, there is room to bring our own ghosts into the room, so each experience is personal and uniquely intense.  Her intention is total immersion.  She is an artist who sees the future, knows the opportunity, and understands the possibility of time-based media.”

Until 28 February. Find out more.

1. VR Still from Nancy Baker Cahill’s Hollow.