When Art Comes a-Knocking: Enjoy Pollock’s All-Over Paintings in VR
Author: Rooney Ciou
With the onset of a global pandemic in early 2020, art galleries and museums worldwide were forced to close their doors to the public. According to a report published by UNESCO in May 2020, 90% of global museums were shut down during the pandemic. Of which, 10% may never open its doors again.
Museums and galleries all over the world are reviewing their options to prevent imminent closure. A survey conducted by the Network of European Museum Organisations concluded that 93% of museum globally are in the midst of establishing an online presence. One example is the precursor VR event to V&A’s annual event - Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser co-launched by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and HTC VIVE Arts.
A few days ago, I came across Tracing Paint: The Pollock Krasner Studio In Virtual Reality on VIVEPORT; a brand new virtual exhibition of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center developed by digital media production company MediaCombo.
The virtual exhibition gives people who would otherwise be unable to visit the studio in person the opportunity to learn about the legacies of renowned American abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.
(From left) Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner
After firing up my VR set, I was greeted with a brief introduction before entering the studio of the former power couple Pollock and Krasner, which has now been transformed into the Pollock-Krasner House.
Immediately, my field of view was saturated with traces of endless color that line the floor. A strong sense of presence and excitement swelled from within as I found myself standing in the home studio of arguable two of the greatest abstract expressionists of our time.
The Man That Changed the Course of Art History
The legendary story of Pollock dates to 1947, when he developed what was later called his “drip” technique. He also laid his canvases on the floor to overcome the orientational limitations of the easel, while replacing the paint brush with drilled paint cans, wooden sticks, and syringes to transfer colors onto the canvas, claiming that they facilitated more direct expression. Of course, the revolution Pollock started did not end with mere equipment. He discarded all composition rules of western painting, and instead saw paint as a collection of core and complementary figures. He would circle his canvas, dripping paint onto the flat surface and allowing the colors to spread. He seemingly abandoned the conventional techniques of expressionism and embraced uncertainty, sharing once that even he sometimes didn’t know how his paintings would turn out.
Art critic Robert Rauschenberg coined Pollock’s style “action painting,” explaining that the artist’s actions are the art itself, whereas the canvas is only a medium on which to record these actions. Pollock’s works highlight his unruly heart. They are the foundation on which abstract expressionism is built and the wings that lifted American art out of the shadow of European dominance.
A Record of Time Passed
MediaCombo is a veteran in virtual art production industry. The company created a true-to-scale virtual representation of the Pollock-Krasner House located on the east coast of the United States by using highly specialized photogrammetry to stitch together a vast number of old images.
The company was able to accurately recreate the iconic floorboards of the studio in Tracing Paint: The Pollock Krasner Studio In Virtual Reality. The historical remnants of the floorboards have since been erased after the museum underwent restoration.
Standing on the same floor Pollock once poured his creative energy on and appreciating the artists and their work guided by the gentle voice of a female tour guide, I can’t help but feel that much closer to Pollock and Krasner.
This experience made me think about 1964 TOKYO VR, which was a project launched by Tokyo City for the promotion of the 2018 Olympic Games. VR has allowed us to travel to places we would otherwise never be able to go, see things we would otherwise never be able to see. It enables us to create new memories with people not of our time, which is a beautiful notion in and of itself. Nonetheless, I pray that museums and galleries may successfully ride out this pandemic. Otherwise, dating would become a whole lot harder!