As part of Laval Virtual World, the art and virtual reality festival Recto VRso also offers a virtual edition. From April 22nd to 24th, enter the virtual world and come meet artists, attend art lectures, and admire a virtual reinterpretation of the Art&VR Gallery exhibition.
Since its creation in 2018, the Recto VRso festival has always questioned the link between real and virtual. The turning point taken by Laval Virtual in 2020 allowed the artistic team to go further in this reflection. Judith Guez, creator, director and curator of the festival, is delighted with this development.
What can you say about the 2020 edition of Recto VRso?
The important information is that the exhibition Real Body/Virtual Body is postponed to next year, April 14-18, 2021. We’re trying to get the same artists, a lot of them have already confirmed. With Recto VRso, we are in a dynamic exhibition around a theme. It is therefore the meeting and the curation around this theme that is important. We can therefore postpone this exhibition without any problem.
Does this mean that a part of Recto VRso will happen during the Laval Virtual World?
For 2020, we are making a virtual Recto VRso edition. It includes several things: everything that happens from April 22nd to 24th, but also what will happen in the coming months. From April 22nd to 24th, in the Laval Virtual World, there is a 4-floor building that is a networking area around Recto VRso that presents the festival through 15 screens: the gallery, the art trail, the 2018 and 2019 catalogues, etc. It will be a place that lives around the artistic community of Recto VRso. The top floor is more focused on presenting artists with videos. There will be rooms for artists, networking areas, meeting areas. It’s a meeting place for art.
What about the artworks? Will we be able to admire them in this virtual world?
The physical exhibition is postponed, it will be held at the Musée des Sciences de Laval (as in 2019, editor’s note). This means that the initial location and all the scenography I had created in the chapel will not take place (the Art&VR Gallery exhibition was to be held in the chapel of the Ambroise Paré high school in Laval, editor’s note). So we thought we would create a virtual exhibition of the Art&VR Gallery of Recto VRso 2020, with the planned scenography. I used Unity to recreate the entire set design. Julien Lomet helped me a lot on the 3D modeling of the chapel in particular, as well as the artists who gave 3D elements of their works. But it is not the works that are presented, the Recto VRso team reinterpreted them and created an exhibition from the elements provided by the artists. It is a free interpretation, coherent at best with what we wanted to do at the beginning.
It’s very interesting and it opens up a field of research: how can we present immersive and interactive works in a virtual scenography? We’ve been working on it for a month. The first stage will be presented from 22nd to 24th April. We will make a video of this space that will present each work, and we are also testing a web integration. On the Recto VRso site, you can click on a button that will open a Unity window and you can walk through a simplified version of the virtual exhibition. Ultimately, the idea is to have a virtual reality experience that will be exhibited in 2021.
Virtual exhibition, meeting with artists, networking… The program of this virtual edition is rich!
We also open a programme of conferences on the theme of art that will take place in a theatre inside VirBELA. On 22nd April, I will present Recto VRso and I will question a lot what is going on at the moment, the current events. The idea is to see how virtual reality artworks can be presented in a virtual environment, and to see what adaptations can be made. The VRHAM festival will come to explain how they rehabilitate during this period. The afternoon will be guided by the researcher Joris Weijdom around the creation of virtual works, including artists from Recto VRso. There will also be the artist-philosopher Suzanne Beer who will present her book around virtual museums. On April 23rd, there will be a discussion session initiated by Julie Walsh, an American curator who will also address the topics of virtualization in art.
This virtual exhibition opens a new page of artistic creation in virtual reality.
My research topic was very much related to the mise en abyme, dives, etc. When a spectator enters an exhibition space, he immerses himself in an imaginary world, and then, when he sees an artwork, he dives back into it. There, with the virtual, it’s another step up. My entire research topic is about how we transport the viewer more and more into the wonder and imagination of the artworks.
Are the artists as enthusiastic as the festival team?
Generally, the feedback from artists is very positive. The period can be very hard for them, because for some people their life is to expose, they live of exposure. Some appreciated our quick rehabilitation and the opportunity to be exposed in a virtual form. We are also thinking about how this virtual exhibition could help the presentation and distribution of the works, and how it could also be exhibited in other places and times (the advantage of the virtual). I would also like to be able to do multi-user visits, meetings with several people. This virtual exhibition will open doors!