Paint Park was an experimental installation of immersive virtual and physical abstract paintings, which use physical materials combined with new technologies in an attempt to think of painting ‘as place’, testing what we understand as painting today. It was installed at Milton Keynes Gallery Project Space during February 2020, and made possible through the generous funding and support from The Arts Council England, University of Northampton, MK Gallery, Hewlett Packard, HTC, Google Tilt Brush and Vertigo VR.
The installation provided the opportunity for audiences to dip in and out of real and digital environments, through an emerging playground of paintings. Visitors were also invited to don VR headsets and explore the VR works and also given the opportunity to create one of their own. Paint Park was made up of 6 areas (see install shots below):
1 The Grotto
The Grotto was a light-controlled space containing 10 connecting painted panels, also known as a decaptych. These paintings map the process of painting, both digital and physical through their own making. Each panel combines an under-layer of luminous paint on canvas, with an image of a physical paint palette plus a VR painting printed onto silk stretched over the top, this is then followed by further layers of paint (oil and acrylic). The silk on panel no.6 is left unfixed allowing it to be animated by a fan.
The Grotto passed through three phases. The first, under normal gallery lighting (on the hour for 15 mins). Phase 2 is a film of VR paint sketches projected onto the paintings (15 mins). And phase 3 saw the paintings luminous layers lit in UV light, revealing further mapping of process (15 mins).
2 AR Paintings
Within the Grotto were hidden Augmented Reality abstract paintings viewed via the downloadable ARize application. The AR paintings were revealed by holding a camera screen (phone or tablet) in-front of the paintings.
3 The Topsy Turvy VR Painting Encounter
This area provided the opportunity to navigate through the VR painting Topsy Turvy. This abstract VR painting explores the similarities and differences of physical and virtual painting using Goodyear’s process of mapping painting using her physical paint palettes.
4 The Turvy Re-Generative Collaborative Artwork
The Turvy Re-Gen work anonymously mapped the behaviour of all of the participants as they navigated through Turvy. It selected their most viewed top 30 paint marks and recreated them as a newly-made collaborative artwork displayed on screen.
5 The Making of Turvy film
This film described the making process of the abstract VR painting Turvy.
6 Tilt Brush Station
This area offered the installation visitors the opportunity to have a go at virtual reality painting in Tilt Brush.