Illuminating Virtual Reality Creative Practice: Three Case Studies in the Context of Australian Art Museums

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Copyright: Zhou, Hao
Contemporary immersive virtual reality (VR) technologies present significant potential for artists to expand their creative repertoire, and for art museums to facilitate exhibition delivery and visitor engagement. To date, studies in the field focus predominantly on identifying the affordances and constraints of VR for art museums and examining visitor experience in the virtual context, with little attention paid to artists as creators of VR works and their realities in the creative process. Illuminating artists’ experiences of ideation and creation helps develop insider’s perspectives beyond what can be determined from solely inspecting the finished works or their reception, and understand how the potentiality and novelty of VR are negotiated in practice and translated into meaningful installations. This research seeks to cast light on the creative practice with VR through three selected projects in the context of Australian art museums as case studies, exploring why and how the artists employed VR in their particular situations. Adopting a qualitative research paradigm and naturalistic inquiry approach, each case study follows a two-phase research design, conducting a review of literature that critiques the project and semi-structured interviews with artists in each phase respectively. Thematic analysis is applied to analyse interview data to derive meanings, patterns and embedded ideas from artists’ accounts. Within-case analysis has generated a detailed presentation of each project regarding its context, VR work(s) produced and the creative process. Led by the research questions, cross-case comparative analysis has established a range of themes and sub-themes (as manifestations of the themes in the case studies), which are integrated and presented as a table. These themes concern the affordances of VR valued by the artists that lead to their employment of the technologies, significant factors influencing their creative process, and key considerations underlying their conceptualisation of VR works and adoption of corresponding approaches. This research contributes new knowledge to understanding artist’s practice in making VR installations, by revealing a range of significant and commonly encountered elements characterising the creative practice, and their contextualised manifestations in the particular case projects. The findings provide art practitioners with a set of considerations for future engagement with VR.
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PhD Doctorate
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