VR Days Europe’s Virtual Dioramas Exhibition Looks to Redefine Immersive Art

This week VR Days Europe has returned to Amsterdam, Holland for another three-day event featuring talks, investor pitches, hands-on demos and more. As part of the event, starting today and running for the next couple of weeks is the Virtual Dioramas exhibition as part of VR Church, and VRFocus went along to check out the exhibits.

Die Fernweh Oper

VR Church is all about showcasing the best in interactive storytelling, with featured projects from around the world. Virtual Dioramas is an offshoot of this, and the first time the exhibition has been held. Located at the Eye Filmmuseum, these six exhibits are solely by Dutch artists, creating immersive scenes which blend new media with traditional techniques.

Die Fernweh Oper by Daniel Ernst and performed by Annina Giere is a piece filled with tragedy like every great opera. Split into three scenes, the first takes you into an opera hall to hear a 50ft singer called Asteria sing for you and your foolish love for her. She is made of starlight and just like any star you see at night what you glimpse is light that has long since faded. The opera then moves into Asteria’s abandoned dressing room before the final scene visiting the custodian who replaces the stars which have died.

As you’d expect, the piece is dramatic and wonderful to listen to, with the audio quality of HTC Vive Pro really shining through thanks to Giere’s voice.

The Exhibition
The Exhibition

Then there was Superfund Diorama by Lotje van Lieshout. She paints panoramic landscapes and the exhibition hand one on the wall. Nearby was a device most easily described as a sort of periscope on a monopod – called a Gyrotopioscope. With a handle each side of the box, you could then peer into Lieshout’s painting, a combination of oil painting and computer-generated animation. Offering an intriguing way to view artwork.

One of the standout pieces was The Exhibition by Jasper de Beijer, an experience putting you inside an ever-changing museum. An ethnographic museum show, the route that you choose dictates the content of the exhibition. After viewing one diorama and then moving to the next you can then turn around to see it swapped out for another and then another. This process continues, offering evermore elaborate scenes. The entire experience wouldn’t be out of place in somewhere like the Natural History Museum, offering a thoroughly engaging experience.

As mentioned, Virtual Dioramas is on for a few weeks if you want to check it out. For further VR Days Europe updates, keep reading VRFocus.

Religion In Cyberspace With the VR Church

The modern world is a difficult place for Christianity in many ways. The notion of attending church every Sunday with your family and community is seeming like an increasingly unrealistic prospect to many in a world where there are many demands on your time and energy. A pastor named D.J. Soto believes that the answer to this problem lies in virtual reality (VR).

Soto trained early in life to be a pastor at the Baptist Pensecola Christian College, but was disillusioned by what he saw as its insular, isolationist attitudes and extremely conservative political stance. Seeking to create a new type of church that welcomed everyone, and has teamed up with two other VR pioneers named Alistair Clarkson and Brian Leupold to carve out a space for worship in VR.

With the number of users in social VR spaces booming, Soto chose social VR app AltSpaceVR for his VR Church. Only two days after the first time Soto for experienced the virtual space, he was hosting services every few weeks. While audiences varied at first, sometimes leaving Soto preaching to an empty room, he kept at it, eventually attracting an audience of people, many of whom would never consider walking into a real-life church, but are happy to listen to Soto speak. The audience frequently includes atheists, not a crowd you would typically expect to see at a religious service of any kind.

Soto says he believes in welcoming all kinds of people. His services feature his VR avatar, a silver robot leading the virtual congregation in worship, Christian rock music playing as animated graphics and lyrics to the song scroll on screens behind Soto’s avatar. The crowd throws up emojis of hearts and smiley faces in response. “Everyone is invited here to VR Church, no matter where you are from in the world, even if you don’t believe in God.” Soto says.

The VR Church is seeking funding to continue its work and expand into other VR social platforms, such as RecRoom, and have plans to being a crowdfunding campaign to extend its reach. VRFocus will bring you further news on the VR Church project as it becomes available.