Heaven’s Gate by Marco Brambilla plays the scale game in virtual reality

The XR panel of the art journal

What exactly is Extended Reality (XR) and how is it used in art? We’re bringing together an international group of experts in the field to examine and make sense of the cutting-edge digital work that artists, museums, galleries and app makers are creating across the spectrum of XR, augmented reality to virtual reality.

Each XR review provides a snapshot of a project and a statement from the creators before our panel of experts assesses it for ease of use, quality of craftsmanship, specific media qualities. he uses and if he innovates. Read all of our XR reviews here.

The Gate of Heaven, by Marco Brambilla

that of Marco Brambilla The gate of paradise is at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) until January 2022, in video projection or on virtual reality (VR) headsets Oculus Quest 2. The experience loops every 4 minutes 45 seconds and is broadcast continuously for museum opening hours.

During Art Basel in Miami Beach, December 1-5, 2021, the museum will present a larger virtual reality viewing event using 20 headsets, allowing a large group to experience The gate of paradise simultaneously.

Marco Brambilla will give a talk at PAMM with the director of the Franklin Sirmans Museum at 1 p.m. on Friday, December 3.

It had already premiered at The Shed in New York, during Frieze New York (May 5-9, 2021).

Our panelists reviewed the remote experience on the Oculus Quest 2 headsets.

Curator’s Note

London-based Italian-born Canadian artist and director Marco Brambilla recently made video waves with gripping explorations of Extended Reality (XR) art and theater. From September to November 2020, he showed The four temperaments at the Michael Fuchs Galerie in Berlin. It features actress Cate Blanchett and reinvents the theory of “personality types” based on four basic moods: sanguine, angry, melancholy and phlegmatic. At the same time, Brambilla made the experience available on the Acute Art augmented reality (AR) smartphone app.

Heaven’s Gate is a video monument to the reverence of Hollywood glamor while telling the story of the world in seven distinct phases.

Marco brambilla

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, Brambilla’s collaboration with Marina Abramović on her monumentally designed 7 deaths of Maria Callas received its first performance of the Munich Staatsoper in April 2020 only live. Brambilla created the video of storm clouds images intermezzi depicting the changing moods of the Greco-American opera diva, one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The scale of the work could be appreciated for the first time during its first public performance, in the same room, in July 2021 with Abramović representing Callas on his Parisian deathbed in 1977.

Scale is at the heart of Brambilla The gate of paradise. It is “a video monument to the reverence of Hollywood glamor,” as Brambilla puts it, “while telling the story of the world in seven distinct phases.” In her intricate, looping, and immersive collage, Brambilla uses existing images to create a digital painting as a human figure travels through seven stages of life, a parallel to Dante’s Seven Mountain Levels. Purgatory.

For the spectators who view it projected in 2D, in a museum setting, the story moves from bottom to top, borrowing the narrative style of a Native American totem. And Brambilla addresses, in his abundant and cluttered imagery, one of the areas of great artistic potential of virtual reality: playing with scale and its relation to time.

Our panel viewed The gate of paradise on the Oculus Quest 2 (soon to be renamed Meta Quest 2). It’s a headset whose optical performance, at a competitive price, is remarkable when you look at the first Oculus Rift headsets to hit the market in 2014. But, as Eron Rauch points out below, it s This is still material that can only reproduce a lower resolution version of the 8K Majesty of the original Brambilla file. It’s a calculation that artists, publishers, and museums will need to engage in for some time, just as the Corning Museum did with its beautifully crafted VR recreation of the Glass Drawing Room at Northumberland House, during the use of a general public RV. headphones to present low-resolution high-fidelity work experiences.

Louis jebb

Seven levels of purgatory in less than five minutes: The gate of paradise Courtesy of the artist and Pérez Art Museum Miami

Is it accessible?

Carole Chainon: The 360 ​​experience is only accessible to museum visitors who can either view the 2D video projected on a dedicated gallery space – at PAMM – or in a VR headset on site.

Eron Rauch: We were given private download links, as the VR version of the artwork is otherwise only available on PAMM headsets.

From a critical and historical point of view of art, what is the quality of art?

The video is a fascinating and seamless collage. Unbelievable. I found myself watching the video a few times just so I could catch all the details.

Carole Chainon

Carole Chainon: The video is a fascinating and seamless collage. Unbelievable. I found myself watching the video a few times just so I could catch all the details. The values ​​of the production – the music, the use of special effects, the pop culture references and the way the artist takes us from one “level” to another – hit all targets to make the captivating video for all audiences.

Eron Rauch: As the work is rooted in the use of tropes, archetypes, and clichés from Hollywood movies, it’s nearly impossible not to simply engage in a mush of connections between art and maximalist American media. These include the layered combinations of Patrick Nagatani or Andrée Tracey; prestigious television openings; Daniel R. Small’s ironic archeology of the Cecil B De Mille set The ten Commandments; “magic eye” books; Californian science fiction cults; Broadway theater sets are rotated by stagehands during musical numbers; and a sort of collision of animated tripod pages loaded with GIFs from the 90s; and the panoramic fractal of Jackson Pollock (dean of modernist spectacle at the time of the film material most used by Brambilla). The show was certainly engaging (and I love maximalist art), but, like many works that portray the show distilled, its irony never seemed to be able to deliver enough power to create an escape speed. criticism of this spectacle even more armed.

What qualities specific to VR / AR support does it use?

Carole Chainon: In a headset, the content uses all the immersive space, there is something to see everywhere you look. 360 / VR is used here as a medium as opposed to a broadcasting tool. As a user, we are actively involved in the artwork as we turn our heads wanting to capture all the details and looking for a kind of “Easter egg hunt”, looking for references with which we are familiar, one way or another. .

Considering the referencing to Golden Age Hollywood cinema, I chose a vintage gilded and red velvet cinema palace as the setting for one of my viewings, which created some interesting resonances.

Eron rauch

Eron Rauch: The artwork itself doesn’t use either VR or AR media, as it’s actually a standard 3D glasses-style video played in a VR environment. One interesting aspect that’s outside of work, but definitely part of the experience, is that Bigscreen – an app used to watch movies on an Oculus headset – lets you change which movie theater you’re watching in. Considering the referencing of Golden Age Hollywood Cinema, I chose a vintage golden and red velvet cinema palace as the backdrop for one of my vigils, which created some interesting resonances. This private screening only took a moment in a menu to organize; which certainly would have been a much more … arduous process, let’s say … for a non-Hollywood studio manager to organize in Egyptian or aero theaters.

A tribute to Hollywood’s golden age seen through Dante’s prism Purgatory: The gate of paradise Courtesy of the artist and Pérez Art Museum Miami

Does this innovate technically?

Carole Chainon: The gate of paradise is extremely well done and should be a benchmark when artists consider virtual reality as a medium.

The new media are not always better and higher definition. The source video is an astonishing 8K resolution, but the movie display of common VR headsets, including the Rift 2, is much lower, making the details of the video blurry and hazy.

Eron rauch

Eron Rauch: I recently revisited the catalog of the show from Providence art poster, 1995-2005 (2006, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design), itself a veritable frenzy of work from the days of the underground events of Fort Thunder and the workspace in Providence. While many of the works were also totally maximalist and made reference to pop culture tropes, their emphatically tactile and DIY fashion is a useful framework for examining one of the great technical flaws of The gate of paradise VR: New media are not always better and higher definition. The source video is an odd 8K resolution, but the movie display of common VR headsets, including the Rift 2, is much inferior, making the details of the video blurry and hazy, even though the screenshots. screen will appear much finer. Even in a quality 3D movie theater, there is a significant loss of optical resolution compared to a simple physical image.

The notes of the XR panel

Carole Chainon gave a rating of 5/5 stars.

Louis jebb gave a rating of 4/5 stars.

Eron rauch gave a rating of 3/5 stars.

Give one overall panel score of 4/5 stars

The XR panel of the art journal

Carole Chainon is the co-founder of JYC, an LA-based XR development and production studio with a presence in Europe, creating XR experiences for the entertainment and business industries. She is also a creator of Spark AR.

Louis jebb is a writer, editor and producer of virtual reality content. He created The Art Newspaper’s XR Panel in 2020. In 2014, he founded immersiv.ly, a maker of virtual reality news content.

Eron rauch is a writer at Riot Games, an artist, writer and curator whose projects explore the infrastructure of the imagination, with an emphasis on subcultures, video games and the history of photography.

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