Virtual reality brings convenience and practicality to art—but it is more than just a gimmick

Aitken’s Venice exhibition contains interactive sculptures installed in, and reflecting, an imaginary architectural environment. The works are site-specific within digitally invented sites that are obsessively rendered.

The show’s central work is Metallic Sleep (2022). It required Vortic to develop technology that could reflect the moving sky in the rotating sculpture. It is listed as being 415.3cm tall and made from mirrored stainless steel and granite stone. Except it isn’t. This work is “not yet realised.” The artist and engineers at Vortic had to thus consider digital and physical constraints in designing and executing this work. It’s wonderful to see VR used as a two-way road, moving “phigitally” (that’s physically and digitally) to and from the digital across material reality.  Yet, the size and material listing make it feel like a prototype whose ultimate actualisation is physical, should it first find a buyer.