Virtual reality, game technology and the unseen energies surrounding us

A new exhibition coming to the Christchurch Art Gallery will challenge how we think about immersive art - and whether art can go beyond immersion.

Art is static. Art is kinetic. Art is... virtual? Immersive? Something more? Something that envelops all the senses, and other senses we didn't know we had?

The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu is bringing the first major survey show by Australian artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding to New Zealand, on show from 26 November until 5 March, 2017. Featuring collaborative projects and solo works by both artists, Energies is a comprehensive presentation of their multi-sensory art practices.

Joyce Hinterding Aeriology 1995/2015. Installation view, Aeriology, Artspace, Sydney, 1998. Copper wire, oscilloscopes. Image courtesy of the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney. 

Alright, so that’s a pretty haughty description. Basically what we’re talking about is a show that promises to be a sensory overload, with sight and sound taking centre stage in a very hands-on, “edgy” exhibition that makes use of a lot of different technologies.

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding Encounter with the Halo Field 2009/2015. Singlechannel video, sound, 3.38min.

Curated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s Anna Davis, the exhibition features large-scale, immersive virtual-3D environments for visitors to explore and navigate, not entirely dissimilar to other large exhibitions the gallery has put on before. But the difference is this show promises to be far more immersive, thanks to the aforementioned modern tech.

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding Geology 2015. Installation view, Energies: Haines & Hinterding, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2015.

Haines and Hinterding, who both live in the Blue Mountains and teach at the University of Sydney, have been working together for more than 15 years. Interested in the unseen energies that surround all of us – things such as very low frequency radio waves, television signals, paranormal events, satellite transmissions and psychic forces – they seek to “make the invisible visible” to audiences through work that draws upon aspects of science, the occult and philosophy.

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding EarthStar 2008. Installation view, Energies: Haines & Hinterding, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2015. 

Expanding on their earlier game-based works, Haines’ and Hinterding’s latest work, Geology (2015), uses computer-game technologies and a motion-detection system to create incredible, interactive simulations of the natural and supernatural world for the viewer to explore.

David Haines Electrostatic Wavefront 1 & 2  2012. 

But for all of its focus on the unseen, a big inspiration for Geology comes from something very visible indeed. The exhibition was inspired by a research trip the artists made to the Christchurch Art Gallery after the 2011 earthquakes. There, they got to see firsthand how, as they call it, “culture interacts with chaotic forces.”

David Haines & Joyce Hinterding Purple Rain 2004. Installation view, (in)visible sounds, Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam, 2007. 

A projection more than 11 metres wide in 4K resolution, Geology is an amplified interactive cinematic experience – think IMAX or the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s 3-D domed “OMNIMAX” theatre that showed films in 360 degrees around audiences. The imaginary terrain of Geology features several different levels to explore, each one taking the audience deeper underground to discover hidden arcane energies.

Joyce Hinterding Large Square Logarithmic VLF Loop Antenna (detail) 2015.

Hey, doesn’t that sound a lot like the VR cover of Idealog issue 62?

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding Starlight Driver: Cloudbuster Number Four: Orgone Energy Cloud Engineering Device 2011–12. 

Joyce Hinterding Wunderlich curves (graphite) from Aura Series 2009.

_____

Haines & Hinterding: Energies will be on display at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu from 26 November, 2016 to 5 March, 2017. Entry is free.