My interest in virtual reality has always been based around how the medium can be used artistically. A lot of the early exploration came through some form of interactive and immersive narrative, but the possibility for more has always been there. Today sculpting in virtual reality can take advantage of 3D modeling at a time of increased access to 3D printing options. With Google’s early release of Tilt Brush, free form 3D painting became a reality. As soon as it became available artists started creating with it, but they have also been limited by the inability to easily move those 3D models out of programs in preparation for 3D printing. The translation from model to print rarely being a one to one process.
Process and Medium
Artist and painter Jonathan Yeo has been on a similar path. Virtual reality sculpting through tools like Tilt Brush gave the classically trained artist the ability to explore sculpture in relation to the medium of painting. Using light field scans of his face for reference, Yeo could sculpt in brush strokes to build portraits that resemble his method of painting. Large blocking strokes brought to life in 3D space.
Working in the virtual reality gives a great deal of flexibility in the tools and process of creation. Combining the options available for outputting 3D models and the ability to translate the digital into the physical has opened an even wider arrange of materials and techniques. These process truly exemplify the exploration of process and medium, each allowing another stage of translation. In Jonathan Yeo’s case, the decision was made to render his ephemeral sculpts as 3D prints and then cast into bronze with the help of Pangolin foundry. In bronze, the sculpture finds its final translation in a material that imbues a sense of finality and permanence.
“As someone who has always wanted to work in three dimensions but never learnt how to do it in the traditional way, it is exciting to have helped create a new process which could probably best described as a hybrid of painting and sculpture. The reason to use self- portraiture was to demonstrate how you could employ 3D scanning to look at yourself in a way that hasn’t been possible until now. What’s exciting is that the combination of this, along with the latest virtual reality and 3D printing technologies, is potentially a new way of making sculpture and one that might inspire other artists from a range of disciplines to have a go too. I hope these pieces not only show how artists can make use of new technology in unexpected ways, but also offer a speculative glimpse of how we all might use them in the future”
– Jonathan Yeo