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Prof Keith Brown tests out the immersive art experience

Prof Keith Brown tests out the immersive art experience

Pioneering 3D artist premieres immersive virtual ‘geometric wonderland’

10 December 2019

Professor Keith Brown’s ‘GeoThicket’ work goes on display at the Lightwaves Festival

An immersive virtual artwork that invites users to plot their own path through a colourful geometric wonderland has been created by one of the world’s foremost digital sculptors.

GeoThicket is the first VR piece to be exhibited by Professor Keith Brown, an early and influential pioneer of 3D sculpture and digital art, who is also Professor of Sculpture and Digital Technologies at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University. 

Users can ‘walk’ and ‘teleport’ through a vast virtual world, freely creating their own unique experience amidst a forest of multi-dimensional and non-representational imagery.

It is on display for the first time at The Lowry for Lightwaves Festival 2019 (December 6-15), a free interactive light festival hosted by Quays Culture at Salford Quays comprised of new and exclusively commissioned digital art displays, alongside emerging talent and interactive workshops from local, national and international artists.

Professor Brown (pictured below) has designed beautiful and intricate fine art sculpture entirely in the cyber environment since the 1990s, though this is his first foray into producing and exhibiting work in the virtual world.

He said: “GeoThicket reverses the usual order between virtual and real, gallery, artwork, and recipient. I’m very excited to present it to audiences for the first time at the Lightwaves Festival.

“I actually use the term ‘real virtuality’ rather than virtual reality because I have no desire to emulate the real world in the virtual world.

“Working in the cyber environment means that you can go beyond the physical and manipulate geometry in ways that you can't do in a physical area. I've worked with intersecting geometry, which means that the objects pass through each other with no resistance, so it's a little bit like you were able to walk through a wall. You can do things there that are simply not possible in the real world.

“The piece is a bit like actually being dropped off by helicopter in the middle of a forest without any paths to find a way home. And so you wander through it, exploring and finding new areas that you'd never been to before. No two users of the GeoThicket immersive environment would ever have the same experience because it would never repeat the same path.”

The GeoThicket, seen here in a 2D verison

Prof Keith Brown explains the GeoThicket while colleagues test it out

Prof Keith Brown explains the GeoThicket while colleagues test it out

Professor Brown’s previous work embraces a wide range of digital media, including 2D, 3D, 4D, time-based installation and video animation, and he has gained widespread acclaim as a pioneer and leader in the field of electronic and digital art.

He has contributed work to various international exhibitions in Europe, Asia, Africa and the USA, including the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition and the Beijing International Art Biennale.

Earlier this year, he delivered a TEDx talk entitled ‘A New Order of Object’ where he discussed “modelling with light, with pure form, in an environment where physics, matter and energy, materiality and gravity play no part, freeing form from material constraints, and transcending our given understanding of how material objects behave in the world in what must be considered a paradigm shift within the discipline of fine art sculpture.”

Professor Brown was supported in the GeoThicket project by Manchester School of Art’s Technical Services team.