Experience the art gallery in a new way

Art lovers across Northern Ireland are being invited to picture the gallery experience in an innovative new way with ‘The Art of VR Music’, an interactive online gallery space which celebrates the work of four Northern Ireland artists with disabilities.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:15 am
Musician and Queen’s University PhD researcher Damian Mills

Created by musician and Queen’s University PhD researcher Damian Mills, visual artist Jamie Harper and multimedia designer Paul Marshall ‘The Art of VR Music’ uses cutting edge technology to interact with localised sound and music, creating sonic and visual profiles of dancers Helen Hall, Linda Fearon and Talia McDowell and writer Niamh Scullion.

Describing the concept and creative teamwork required to develop the project, Damian said: “I have been working in the field of disability in the arts for the past 20 years and exploring the potential of virtual reality for disabled musicians for the past two years.

“I wanted to see if it was possible to create a virtual world that worked in tandem with the real world and to highlight the particular effort and dedication it takes to be creative as an artist with a disability.

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Dancer Helen Hall, one of the artists profiled in ‘The Art of VR Music’, an innovative new interactive online gallery space. Portrait by Jamie Harper

“‘The Art of VR Music’ was originally conceived as a live exhibition of interactive art with virtual reality at Vault Artists’ Studios in East Belfast. That version of the project is now complete - we have recreated the Vault theatre and loaded it onto the Oculus Quest 2, allowing the observer to wander freely around the theatre space to view the art with an additional dimension of virtual reality.

“I look forward to when the Vault reopens and we can integrate the VR version into the real world.

“In the meantime, the pandemic means that we have also taken the project online and recreated the theatre space at Vault and the stories of our four artists, which can be experienced either as an augmented website or in virtual reality.

“‘The Art of VR Music’ has allowed us to tell the stories of our talented subjects in a new way, giving greater insight into their artistic processes and highlighting the amazing potential of the technology that’s currently available in Northern Ireland.”

Dancer Talia McDowell, one of the artists profiled in ‘The Art of VR Music’, an innovative new interactive online gallery space. Portrait by Jamie Harper

Helen Hall, a visually impaired professional dancer and choreographer who is one of the four artists profiled in ‘The Art of VR Music’, said: “Taking part in ‘The Art of VR Music’ gave me time to reflect on my love of music and how it inspires me in my life and in my work as a dancer and choreographer.

“Damian sent me and the other three artists a questionnaire, asking us to record our thoughts on everything from our favourite colour to how we feel when we finish creating a piece of art.

“We then each had our photographs taken and turned into beautiful portraits by artist Jamie Harper. These portraits were installed with audio clips of our interviews in ‘The Art of VR Music’ which art lovers can explore from the comfort of their own homes.”

Experience ‘The Art of VR Music’ for yourself now at www.theartofvrmusic.com