If you are hesitant about entering a gallery, you’re self-conscious when visiting galleries, you give artworks a wide berth, or you rush through a visit to the gallery because you find it difficult to ‘fit in’, you might find it a relief that your interaction with art galleries can be mediated by technology, and be as excited as I was when I heard about GTBank’s virtual reality art exhibition.
The intriguing thing about virtual reality is that it transports you into environments you might hitherto be afraid or constrained to explore and I was curious to see how it would fit into the world of art, having previously come across it in the realms of filmmaking and gaming. So, off I went to the YouRead Library in Yaba, one of the venues for GTBank’s Virtual Reality Art Exhibitions.
When I arrived at the VR stand, there were many people around who were conducting their normal business at the library, and I began to wonder if the noise would interfere with my experience. I met a friendly attendant who was not only helpful with instructions but patiently answered my numerous questions. He gave me a pamphlet that explained the purpose of the exhibition and also listed some of the artworks on display. I was handed the headset, which was very stylish by the way, and looked like something straight out of a Daft Punk video. When I strapped it on, I was instantly transported to a large room filled with meticulously-arranged artworks from numerous Nigerian artists. There was also some soothing music playing in the background, creating a peaceful ambience.
Initially, I thought it was going to be a brief experience restricted to a single room, but there were 3 rooms in total, with each room further divided into 3 spaces with glass partitions that added to the gallery’s aesthetic value. The rooms were well-lit and had light coloured walls that helped disperse light. I was able to move between the spaces by focusing on a series of yellow dots that moved me from one space to another. My favourite room was the lounge on the upper floor that was designed with sitting areas and smart lighting.
It was easy for me to find my way around the gallery, as the navigation was very straightforward. I only had to focus on any artwork of my choice and voila, I got a magnified view as well as detailed information about the artwork and the contributing artist. The experience was so immersive that I became oblivious to the people around me, negating my earlier concerns about the influence of external noises.
The virtual reality exhibition is an innovative way for artists to showcase their works; it circumvents the cut-throat fees charged for physical spaces and opens up their work to a wider audience. It also attracts those who would want to engage with art without the constraints of conventional galleries.
The VR exhibition was an impressive simulation of the gallery experience. I was able to explore a rich collection of art through a screen attached to a headset. I had unrestricted movement and a 360-degree view of a well-defined space. It was an immensely gratifying experience that ensured I ended up going back again, and again.
*The Art635 Virtual Reality Art Exhibition is available at select GTBank Branches to be announced on all GTBank social media platforms till year end*