Chances are, if you can't draw worth beans now, you're not going to get any better with the Tilt Brush by Google. But this virtual reality experience is an infinitely cooler way to create three-dimensional paintings, and those who have experienced it have been blown away.
It's being installed at Rice University's new Moody Center for the Arts, which opens its doors to the public for its first full day on February 25. "You put on a virtual-reality headset and there's a handheld device that works like a paintbrush and palette, and you'll be able to see that on an output," says Alison Weaver, the Suzanne Deal Booth executive director. "A sensor in the room will see how your body works, and that appears on the monitor. It's an exciting frontier. How often does that occur in a lifetime?" Weaver says Rice is the first institution to make it available to the public.
As for the "how," the Tilt Brush utilizes an HTC Vive, then Steam is installed to launch the brush. User reviews are effusive, ranging from "I made a Dragon" (ProSonicDagan) to "This is serious science fiction magic right here" (Cyrix). It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but some of these reviews of the Tilt Brush (from steamcommunity.com) certainly add depth to the experience.
"My dad tried it and said 'this is what acid was supposed to be like.'" – [$bKcM$] shanstafari
"LOVE LOVE LOVE the new audio reactive brushes. It's like you're alone in the world with just your favorite tunes and a crazy dancing art piece." – FarewellVHS
"Get high, play music, paint in VR, experience nirvana." – Harvester of Sorrow
"I built a snowman from scratch, let the snow fall and I danced around it...I felt like a kid again." – Gak
"The closest thing to real psychedelic trip you can get without the Shrooms or LSD! Very beautiful and calming!" – Conkerz
"My girlfriend is an artist and while I was happy making a chair out of light she was making masterpieces, full-sized drawings of people, scenery of trees and mountains you can walk though, it's just breathtaking." – CalienteQuacker
Tilt Brush by Google opens to the public for its first full day on February 25. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Moody Center for the Arts, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-2787 or visit moody.rice.edu. Free.
Next door, in a second gallery also dedicated to new media arts, is a large-scale installation by the Tokyo art collective teamLab, Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together — A Whole Year per Hour. "They are operating on the cutting edge of technology," says Weaver. "The artwork forms around the visitor's body and every visitor has a unique experience. Sensors pick up on the presence of a visitor and projected digital flowers come and land on the visitor. They seed, sprout, bloom and fade, and the visitors are equal participants to the artwork."
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Weaver goes on to say that we're beginning a new era in the way art, technology and nature interact, which calls for an exploration into how humans relate to these new experiences.
Flowers and People is accompanied by sound by Hideaki Takahashi and, because it's in a smaller gallery space, will be limited to about ten people at a time. "It's the first time it will be shown in Houston, and I think it will be a lot of fun and also a beautiful, immersive experience for visitors," says Weaver.
Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together — A Whole Year per Hour opens to the public for its first full day on February 25. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through August 13. Moody Center for the Arts, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-2787 or visit moody.rice.edu. Free.