The Royal Academy of Arts and HTC unveil the world’s first 3D printed Virtual Reality sculpture by RA Schools’ artist


The Royal Academy of Arts and HTC Vive present the world’s first 3D printed artworks in virtual reality by Royal Academy Schools’ alumni Adham Faramawy, Elliot Dodd and current third year student Jessy Jetpacks in the immersive display Virtually Real from 12 – 14 January 2017 in the Fine Rooms at the Royal Academy (Friends Preview 11 January 2017).


The artists have created their work using the virtual reality platform HTC Vive. Offering an unrivalled experience due to its real-life graphics, HTC Vive enables participants to interact in hundreds of virtual worlds with its innovative hand controllers and room-scale tracking. Aspects of each of the artists’ work have been 3D printed for the first time and visitors will be able to experience these groundbreaking creations in both virtual and physical form.


Each artist involved in the project has a history of working in virtual reality, apps and multimedia. The pieces have been created using a series of artistic software programmes including Tilt Brush by Google – a paint pallet that lets the user paint in a 3D space with virtual reality and Kodon – a virtual 3D modelling tool. SuperHuge 3D printing has been used for the project which is a Hybrid Object Layer Manufacturing (OLM) 3D printing technology.


In the display, each artist’s virtual reality work and 3D printed sculpture are presented side by side. Visitors are invited to use an HTC Vive headset to immerse themselves in each virtual art world, enabling them to walk through, over, under and around the artwork, while also creating their own VR drawings.


The project showcases the potential of VR where the physical limitations of gravity cease to exist and playback technology allows pieces to be experienced as they are created, as well as in their final physical forms.


Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, said: “Virtual reality’s influence in the creative industries is emerging all the time and this shows the possibilities it offers. The collaboration is a fantastic example of how state-of-the-art technology can be used to create innovative and exciting art.”


Mark Hampson, Head of Fine Art Processes, Royal Academy Schools, said: “As a 21st century art school the exciting emergence of new technologies for art production is paramount in our thinking at the RA Schools. We are delighted to be collaborating with HTC Vive on this innovative project, which will extend our knowledge into the relatively unchartered territories for works of art using virtual and digital means, offering us the chance to not only experiment with virtual head set technology but to become pioneers in the production of 3D sculptural forms created from virtually generated imagery. The artists selected for this collaboration represent an emerging generation who are perfectly equipped to investigate the possibilities for an art rooted in the virtual world. Their use of hybrid approaches, that utilise both traditional and future forms, enables them to manipulate technologies both with and against their intended commercial functions. The work they have produced will signpost us to unexpected future creative outcomes and new universes of artistic possibility, helping mould the identity of future art school creativity.”


Jon Goddard, HTC’s Head of European VR Marketing, HTC Vive, said: “This year sees virtual reality truly realising its potential and being used in a huge array of fields – from medical, to travel and also gaming. This collaboration shows VR’s future as an art form and we’re proud to partner with such an established institution as the Royal Academy to achieve this world first. We hope the project will allow visitors to see what can be achieved creatively when the virtual and physical worlds of art are combined, and hopefully be inspired themselves”.


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