Saturday, April 18, 2015

Much to be Desired: Triennial exhibition, "Surround Audience."

Steegmann Mangrané's "Phantom"

                                                             Jerry Saltz experiencing "Phantom" 

Heavy on the technology and Internet-themed works, Surround Audience presents the work of 51 early-career artists including Steegmann Mangrané's and his piece, "Phantom". "Phantom" uses the technology of the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality gaming gear. "Oculus was looking for an opportunity to unveil its technology in a public way," Steegmann Mangrané stated, and everyone there seemed to really enjoy the experience. Standing in line, you patiently wait you turn, while hearing each person go and gasp at what they see. 
For me, I am no stranger to either the technological wonders of video games, nor the oculus. I have experienced many games using the new technology and was overly excited to see what a visual artist would do with something like that. When you put on the head gear you are transported to a digital forest, he chose an endangered forest in Brazil. For those who haven't experienced it, its basically a digital world you can walk around in. Although everyone around me was thrilled and inspired by the experience, I was disappointed. I was so disappointed that I actually became mad. For me the experience was amateur hour in comparison to what game developers have done with the technology. 
Artnet news claimed that "It's so cool," was proclaimed by almost every "rifter". But for me, Mangrané didn't make art, he made a demo, and not a very good demo. My point of view is that he used the hype of the technology to hide just how mediocre his piece actually was. As a gamer, I have been exposed to not only the impressive and deep worlds created by game developer but also their simple yet brilliant demos. If the Oculus Rift company had wanted to have a public viewing of their new technology and exposed it to non-gamers maybe they should have stayed with a game developer who understands it because Steegmann Mangrané didn't even touch on the possibilities of the technology. 

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