In recent years Virtual Reality has become one of the most exciting trends emerging within the world of art. With the exhibition CC LAB, Copenhagen Contemporary takes VR into the laboratory exploring the new and seemingly boundless reality of this technology. It can take you to exotic and strange places and off into dreamlike worlds while you yourself remain firmly rooted in the exhibition rooms.
While this new technology has inspired game developers for years, artists and storytellers have only just begun to explore the possibilities offered by VR. CC introduces a range of Danish and international artists who experiment with Virtual Reality in order to push boundaries and open up new spaces for art to inhabit – and explore.
CC LAB occupies two of CC’s huge halls. In Hall 1 the Danish studio Makropol presents the total installation, Anthropia (2017): a VR performance where visitors are sent on a voyage through the virtual worlds of five different artists. In Hall 2 works by a number of internationally acclaimed contemporary artists will be on show – each presenting their individual interpretation of how VR can be used in the arts.
The artists normally work in a wide variety of media: painting, sculpture, installation and video. In the new VR works produced by Khora Contemporary these traditional media are integrated, and the exhibition provides visitors with an opportunity to explore virtual universes created by Christian Lemmerz (GE/DK), Paul McCarthy (US), Tony Oursler (US) and Erik Parker (GE/US). In Hall 2 it is also possible to experience the recognized VR drawing program Tilt Brush.
In recent years the Danish studio Makropol has made a name for itself in the VR world, presenting works both at home and abroad. Now they occupy CC’s Hall 1 with the 400-m2 VR total installation, Anthropia. Anthropia is a cinematic VR performance, in which performance art, installation art and VR meet in a 60-minute-long event.
In CC’s huge hall visitors, wearing VR goggles, will wander freely through the installation, which correlates on a scale of 1:1 with the physical scenography of the exhibition space. The work’s ceremonial narrative is divided into five chapters and takes place on a miniature golf course.
The road to Anthropia starts on Fairway 1, but with every step you take into synthetic reality, all that is familiar gradually dissolves, and a new reality takes shape. Anthropia is Makropol’s latest and most ambitious work to date, and is part of their inter-aesthetic project, Traverse – an encounter between artists from different disciplines in a single work. The artists behind the video chapters are Therese Willstedt (SE), Rikke Benborg (DK), Ali Abbasi (IR), Julian Juhlin (DK) and Johan Knattrup Jensen (DK).
Here CC presents a range of artists and their individual takes on how art and technology can come together in VR works produced by the visionary Danish VR production company Khora Contemporary.
The American artist Paul McCarthy is known for his provocative, boundary-breaking sculptures and installations, which challenge the conventions and authorities of the West. In the work, C.S.S.C. Coach Stage Stage Coach VR experiment Mary and Eve (2017), McCarthy has extended the limits of absurdity and, for the first time, moved into the virtual world.
The viewer enters a psychedelic universe where two women, Mary and Eve, and their multiple alter egos, capture him/her in an intense power struggle. What first comes across as a dreamlike Disney world escalates into a psychosexual trip. All common social rules are gone and provocation takes over, leaving the viewer in a distorted reality.
In Christian Lemmerz’s VR work, La Apparizione (2017), the viewer encounters one of the oldest and most widely portrayed characters in history: the crucified Christ. Floating in deep darkness, the crucified figure appears, with a gleaming gold body and open wounds. But here it is no longer fixed to the cross, the plinth of a classical sculpture or the walls of an exhibition space. Instead it floats freely in virtual reality.
Lemmerz portrays and reworks the classic Christian motif in a new way, incarnated and brought to life in the extreme visuality of the VR space. For some time now the multimedia and installation artist Tony Oursler has made use of modern technology in his works, and the virtual world seems to be a natural extension of Oursler’s practice.
The VR work, Spacemen R My Friended (2016) invites the viewer into the world of the main protagonist, George Adamski. Adamski was one of the first people who claimed publicly that he had encountered aliens, visited other planets, seen UFOs and even photographed them. Oursler’s magic and peculiar universe gives visitors a close encounter with George Adamski’s discoveries on Earth and in space.
The painter Erik Parker is known for his colourful palette and almost hallucinatory motifs drawing inspiration from everything from American underground culture, hip hop and comic strips to works by art-historical icons such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and Roy Lichtenstein. The VR work, Switchstance Bay (2016) emerged from Parker’s tropical paintings from 2014.
There is no longer just a two-dimensional surface, but a 360-degree, virtual world. The viewer enters a colourful, luscious landscape – an artificial paradise. But it is not long before you begin to suspect that this joyous, colourful landscape might actually be the result of climate change and environmental problems. The purple water, the psychedelic trees and unreal shadows leave the viewer in a world at the frontier between utopia and dystopia.
VR Drawning Workspace
In CC’s virtual workspace for children and other playful souls one can try out the innovative VR drawing software Tilt Brush and give one’s creativity free rein: see your brushstrokes transformed into 3D visuals, throw stars of every colour around or write your name in flaming letters. The room is your canvas – and the possibilities are endless.
Anthropia is kindly supported by The Bikuben Foundation, The Danish Arts Foundation, The Nordic Film Foundation. CC LAB is kindly supported by The Knud Højgaard Foundation and The Committee for Visual Art.