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Virtual reality recognized as art by local art center

Posted: 4:13 PM, Sep 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-03 23:14:42Z

The art industry in Boise is getting bigger and more dimensional. The Gem Center for the Arts has been exhibiting virtual reality as part of their recent art display. 

"We're just sort of interested in giving a spotlight to media and ideas that don't necessarily have another place to be seen in Boise," said the curator at the center Alek de Dochas. 

Boise State student Elizabeth Altmiller featured her virtual world at the Gem which gave her space for her creative and tech side to come together. 

"I always thought I'd have to give up the art side of it, that it wouldn't pay that it wasn't applicable to the real world. Turns out that's not true. And in science and technology and specifically VR, it's necessary," said Altmiller. 

If you question whether virtual reality should be considered art, think about the work it takes to trick your mind into thinking it's somewhere else. 

Just as some view going to a museum as an art immersion experience, VR can elicit similar feelings and create its own type of art immersion. 

"It's a head-mounted display right on your face, and your eyes and your visual pathways are completely immersed into that environment," said vice chairman of the Idaho Virtual Reality Council Preston Lewis. 

Idaho Virtual Reality Council works with all VR endeavors around Boise and says this is one of several fields that benefit from a virtual experience. 

"Just the potential for technology to unlock that creative aspect and be that new toolkit for creatives, that's just one small little piece that could be huge for that industry," said Lewis. 

There's even a program at BSU that teaches students about the technology and artistry of VR. 

"It's an entirely new realm of art. When it comes to VR, you not only have to design how space looks but all the colors, lighting and sounds, so you're almost a film director and an artist at the same time," said professor of the Games, Interactive Media, and Mobile at BSU Karen Doty. 

Students like Altmiller plan to keep using their virtual artwork to enhance the in-person experience with art. 

"In a museum, you can get really close to the pieces and say 'yeah wow I can imagine what the artist thought or felt' but in VR the artist can actually put those thought into it. It's so much closer to being able to bridge that gap between viewer and artist," said Altmiller.