The experience Flow by Yao Wang is based on the Chinese fable “The Peach Blossom Spring”, in which a fisherman meets people who live completely apart from the rest of the world and its society and politics.An interview with the artist:
VRHAM! VIRTUAL: What about this story attracted you?
YAO WANG: Nowadays, everything about life is either accelerating or caving in. Living space gets smaller, the news gets bigger. I often find myself reminiscing about a time when life was slower and simpler; when there were fewer things to have but more time with loved ones. This was the sentiment when Tao Yuanming wrote this poem in 421 CE, and it still stands true today.
VV: Your work tells of nature experiences. At the same time, however, we can only experience it through high-tech means. Do you believe that VR has the power to bring nature, society and technology together in a new way? If so, how?
YW: I think there’s a beauty in that on its own. It’s very cyberpunk (laughing)
The challenge in bringing the abstract ink strokes to life with artist Jessica (Sijia) Zhai was in portraying depth, the randomness of paintbrush strokes, and syncing those strokes to musical elements.
VV: Flow is based on the aesthetics of Chinese water paintings. Tell us a bit about the special challenges in translating a flat painting technique into an immersive 360° experience.
YW: The entire experience is drawn in traditional Chinese water-and-ink painting style, inspired heavily by the innovations of artist Wu Guangzhong (1919-2010). The ethereal mountains, buildings, and people were delicately drawn by artist Chuantao Xu inside Quill, who overcame many design challenges as he translated a “flat” (traditionally with no use of linear perspective techniques or shadowing) and translucent painting style into a lush landscape. The challenge in bringing the abstract ink strokes to life with artist Jessica (Sijia) Zhai was in portraying depth, the randomness of paintbrush strokes, and syncing those strokes to musical elements.
VV: For you as an artist, what is the most exciting thing about working with virtual realities?
YW: For me, it is the immersion that this medium offers. As the co-founder of ICTUS Audio, we are most excited about the development of spatial audio and spatial music within immersive experiences. Sound is a centre element in FLOW. The original ethnic score incorporates ambisonics and spatial audio technology to create an immersive sonic world. This world music score features a blend of ethnic instruments such as the Greek lyra, the Chinese guzheng, pipa, dulcimer, tap guitar and cello. It is a true artwork of multiculturalism. These instruments blend beautifully in a spatial environment, circulating around the listener. We want to keep pushing the boundaries of merging art and music in virtual realities.