Researchers have been experimenting with ways to reach people as VR technology improves, becomes cheaper, and more accessible – everything from treating PTSD to performing operas. Visual artists are the most recent to wonder how technology might push the boundaries of their field, looking for new ways to express themselves and share their work. However, this is a tricky crossroads because it is difficult to faithfully capture the physical components of painting – the texture of a brush, the pressure on the canvas, a serendipitous accident – within a virtual environment.
Nonetheless, VR technology has spawned collaborations between artists, coders, and computer scientists who see an emerging aesthetic experience at the intersection of their fields, powered by devices and algorithms designed to capture artistic impulses.
Researchers are also looking to art for daring new ways to represent data. They want to bring artistic perspectives to the problem of creating images from these massive, complex datasets.
Researchers have also been investigating ways to incorporate images of real-world materials (such as clay, leaves, shaved wax, or paint) into a virtual world, resulting in an immersive hybrid experience that can blur the lines between the digital and physical worlds. These virtual objects created from real-world textures can enhance art or data visualization.