Our first impression of virtual reality art: it’s creepy as hell. Put on the headset and you’re in another world – or in the case of artist Christian Lemmerz’s latest VR piece, face-to-face with a burning, golden crucifix, where Jesus’ deformed body crackles with embers like a wildfire.
Beijing’s first virtual reality art exhibition is not for the faint of heart. But it is a one-of-a-kind experience. Or as some call it: the future.
Here’s how it works. Walk into Faurschou Foundation Beijing (just across from that weird North Korean gallery in 798 Art District) and you’ll enter a high-ceilinged white hall, cordoned off into smaller, equally minimalist sections. These are the viewing rooms, which give you enough space to walk around in the virtual world you’re about to enter. An attendant will help you put on the headset, and then you’re elsewhere – far, far away from the quiet gallery in Beijing.
Each month, Faurschou is showing a different VR artwork. The exhibition is in collaboration with the Faurschou Foundation’s studio in Copenhagen and the creative company Khora Contemporary, which has worked with the artists to produce these exhibits. While this month’s pieces have already been shown in Denmark, Beijingers have something special to look forward to – the world debut of VR art by acclaimed Chinese artist Yu Hong, in January.
Some works run for three minutes; others are infinite. In some instances, viewers will be given handle bars that enable them to interact with the piece. In others, they just watch, mesmerized.
Perhaps the strangest part of the whole experience is its ending – when we remove our headsets and re-enter the sterile, ultra-plain ambiance of the gallery. For a moment, the real world feels like the one that’s fake.
This month: Erik Parker (Oct 1-27) and Paul McCarthy (Oct 29-Nov 24); Future months: Tony Oursler (Nov 26-Jan 5) and Yu Hong (Jan 7-Feb 3); Free admission; Tue-Sun, 10am-6pm; Faurschou Foundation.