Contemporary Art and Virtual Reality: New Conditions of Viewership


  • Francesco Maria Spampinato University of Bologna
  • Valentino Catricalà Manchester Metropolitan University



Contemporary Art, Virtual Reality, Visual Culture, Media Art, Dystopia, Empathy


The article aims to respond to the lack of studies on the relationships between contemporary visual arts and VR, focusing on the role of “storytelling” and identifying what distinguishes VR art projects from other contemporary VR uses, namely their criticism of the VR medium itself. VR has developed a new language in the last five years, based on specific visual grammar and allowing new narration forms. Visual artists have been attracted to VR in search of new modes of production and expose the negative impact of technology in our perception of reality, or else the new mediated ways of seeing and distanced interaction with the world around us. The first part is dedicated to the discussion of Canadian artist Jon Rafman’s View of Pariser Platz (2016) and American artist Jordan Wolfson’s Real Violence (2017), two of the first Oculus Rift-based art installations to develop a metalinguistic commentary on how VR, although promising immersion, produces, in fact, alienation, homogenization, brutalization and the loss of empathy. The article continues with a discussion on the recent rise of tech companies aimed at the production of contemporary artworks based on VR technology: Acute Art (London), Khora Contemporary (Copenhagen), and VIVE Arts (Taiwan). This is a new expanding field that is changing the ontology of artmaking and redefining the artist's role, mainly in light of the cooperation with technicians and programmers.




How to Cite

Spampinato, F. M., & Catricalà, V. (2021). Contemporary Art and Virtual Reality: New Conditions of Viewership. Cinergie – Il Cinema E Le Altre Arti, 10(19), 121–133.