Embrace Virtual Reality, Say Art Leaders

by Bethan Ackerley

Leading figures in the creative industries have called for greater use of virtual reality (VR) technology in every sector, from theatre to the preservation of ancient ruins.

A panel of industry experts at the VR World Conference in London urged the arts to embrace, rather than fear, virtual and augmented reality.

Nigel Hilditch, director of video for art dealership Sotheby’s, emphasised the restorative potential of virtual reality: “The moment I understood VR was when I saw how it allows you to time travel, to experience things that no longer exist.

“At the Tate Modern, there’s currently a room that recreates a Picasso exhibition from 1932. With VR, you could do that at a bigger level: you could find yourself in Andy Warhol’s studio in the 1960s, or even Leonardo Da Vinci’s.”

Maitreyi Maheshwari, the programme director of the Zablucowicz Collection, was similarly enthusiastic.

Sites such as  Palmyra are no longer with us, but they have been documented well enough for them to be restored through technology. There’s a real value in heritage preservation.”

Last month, Google announced its partnership with digital archiving non-profit CyArk to conserve endangered historical sites through virtual reality.

The panel discussion follows the Government’s announcement in March that it will pledge £33 million to invest in immersive technologies in the creative industries.

Exhibitors at the conference were also excited by the technology’s potential. Vitomir Jevremovic, founder and CEO of VR All Art, highlighted the democratising nature of immersive technologies but felt it would be a slow undertaking.

“The introduction of virtual reality into the art world needs to be a step by step process. Galleries are an important stakeholder, and they need to embrace VR without fear as a means of finding new audiences, like the internet has been.”

Featured Image by Aaron Aanderer

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