While businesses have enriched their marketing events and products with 360° video for years, artists have only recently started getting to grips with the format. From music videos to exhibitions, the medium is now being used to attract new audiences and create a brand new type of art in a relatively untested way.
Writing for Professional Artist magazine, Terry Sullivan complains that “those outside the fine-art world often harbor a rather dated or romantic view of how artists use or relate to technology. My guess is they think artists more or less utterly reject all forms of technology.” The view of ‘the artist’ that most people hold is more paintbrush, canvas and beret than GoPro camera and laptop.
360° video is often seen as technological in a way which could render it incompatible with any kind of artistic movement. Yet 360° video and art are very closely aligned. The creative production agency Rewind, who have produced 360° video content for the BBC, Red Bull and Nissan amongst others, talk about the format’s ability to lend itself to creativity. They state that “by doing away with fixed perspectives and placing viewers in the heart of the action, 360° video has reinvented the idea of digital storytelling.” This take on 360° video has opened up exciting possibilities for creative minds in the arts.
How galleries are using 360° video to attract audiences
Galleries are the institutions which suffer most from, and perhaps perpetuate, outdated opinions about art. As art critic John Berger believed, galleries seem exclusive and stuffy to some, rather than pioneering. However, a number of galleries have started experimenting with 360° video and transforming their reputations.
For fans of art who want to see work on the other side of the world, or artists who want to reach the widest possible audience, 360° video is an ideal solution. The New York Metropolitan Museum’s 360 degree project offers viewers a unique and a completely free glimpse into their world famous galleries. The gallery has claimed that 360° video allowed them to “invite new and existing Met fans to ‘visit’ the Museum’s art and architecture in a fresh, immersive way.”
The Tate Modern in London underwent a similar 360° video project in 2016, in a video that saw pro-BMX rider Kriss Kyle take viewers on a ride through the gallery. Likewise, the Royal Academy of Arts launched an interactive journey using 360° video to celebrate the work of Ai Weiwei, the contemporary Chinese artist and activist. The RA claimed that their “specially-created video helps you to discover the meaning, context and technical detail of Ai Weiwei’s work.”
How musicians are using 360° video
360° video isn’t only used by the art world to offer an insight into various works, but to create. ALLie News suggest that “You can also create a wealth of VR content, including original films, surreal art, and so forth. With 360° cameras, your creativity is king.”
One area in which the format has been particularly prevalent is music videos. With Facebook and YouTube fully supporting 360° video on their platforms, it comes as no surprise that a wide range of musicians are experimenting with VR to create 360° music videos of their own.
Avicii’s 360° video for the track ‘Waiting For Love’ has amassed over 18 million views on Youtube. Björk’s virtual reality experience for the song ‘stonemilker’ has over 4 million views. Other artists who have utilised 360° technology to create unique music videos include Foals, Muse and Taylor Swift, and the relative affordability of the medium has also allowed independent acts such as The Indelicates to create what they touted as an entire “VR pop single.”
How artworks are now being conceived as 360° productions
One of the most engaging ways that 360° video has been able to transcend the standard confines of the art world is its accessibility; with the work not limited to a single gallery or installation, users can experience new frontiers in creativity from wherever they are, at their own convenience.
Always & Forever, the digital studio of artist George Michael Brower, is responsible for surrealist videos such as Human Horde. Such projects make for uncomfortable viewing, not dissimilar to if you were able to walk underneath one of Salvador Dalí’s dripping clocks from The Persistence of Memory.
While that work has yet to be rendered in all its full panoramic glory, another of the the dada pioneer’s paintings has been. Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus was given the 360-degree treatment in the award-winning Dreams Of Dalí video.
Videos like this provide a powerful new perspective on classic works of art, but they arguably go beyond that. Through 360° video, older artworks could potentially be digitally manipulated in the future, bringing them to a wider audience and further demolishing the boundaries which separate 360° video from being seen as legitimate artform.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.