Interview November 02, 2016 by Ben Pateman
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Tilt Brush and music: we chat with Junkerry about her thoughts on the medium

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In his TED talk at the start of the year, Chris Milk described VR as “the last medium”: a final bridging of the gap between content creator and audience. Since then we have seen a spike in VR video content, from the abstract and surreal to the straightforward and sincere. However, the vast majority of this work is 180′ or 360′ filmed video, and while this presents its own unique possibilities and challenges to explore, it’s just one facet of what this “last medium” is capable of.

Enter contemporary pop artist Junkerry, who is exploring in a different direction. In a recent collaboration with London illustrator Patrick Morgan, virtual reality – specifically, Google Tilt Brush – was used to create a 2D music video for her song ‘As We Are’. We’ve seen VR utilized as a broad production tool for 2D content before, but this approach goes a level deeper by embracing VR as an intrinsic aspect of the performance.

The nearest analogy to this kind of work would likely be the spontaneous splashing of paint on canvas, but here the brush moves freely across all three dimensions.   Junkerry described the process as “a completely spontaneous dance of music and art”, highlighting a key difference in comparison to traditionally more meticulous 3D works.

We only had tilt brush for one day, and really wanted to let the viewer understand, we were just playing! Patrick Morgan is such a talented illustrator, which made this possible. I like using the first take, it has a feeling of truth

She’s looking to close the loop by releasing the music video as an actual VR experience as well, which introduces a new set of possibilities.  We asked her if she was planning on using the full 3D space for her audio tracks, instead of just stereo channels:

Absolutely! I work with MAX msp software via Paris’s contemporary music academy IRCAM. It allows me to create music using spacial awareness – where all my sounds become interactive. I’m also hoping to do this for an art/music installation

Where splashing paint on canvas produces a framed, static image, applications like Tilt Brush have the potential to effectively produce stand-alone art installations: fully immersive and explorable 3D spaces.  Beyond that, the process has the potential to bind together many aspects of a performance, precisely capturing both the dance and the music in a space that can either be experienced live, or re-visited and re-experienced in its full, original form.

junkerry

Pushing towards live work with VR is something Junkerry expresses a lot of interest in.  Up until this point, she says, it’s all been about collaborating and experimenting, something which surely rings true for many people working with VR in these early days.

I wanted to keep it simple, while still being innovative, and to show that new technology can always be used in artistic ways. So Tilt Brush was perfect for this track

However, ultimately Tilt Brush is a general-use piece of software, and as much as it’s currently capable of, in the end it’s inevitable that more dedicated tools will be needed for individual expression.  Right now, Tilt Brush is serving as a kind of sandbox for the curious to play in and become inspired by:  and that’s exactly what is needed to get the ball rolling.

For more of Junkerry’s work, be sure to check her out on SoundCloud.

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