Mat Collishaw Launches Kickstarter Campaign For Ambitious Virtual Reality Exhibition

Mat Collishaw Launches Kickstarter Campaign For Ambitious Virtual Reality Exhibition
Mat Collishaw is developing an ambitious new virtual reality project due to launch in May 2017. The project, titled Thresholds, is a Virtual Reality experience designed to transport the visitor to the first major exhibition of photography. Collishaw uses VR, to explore a moment when photography was new to the public. Alongside the exhibition, the artist will launch an exclusive new video artwork on Sedition, which is one of several rewards available for supporters of his Kickstarter campaign.

In Thresholds, visitors wearing VR headsets experience a simulated exhibition space complete with display cabinets and vitrines. At the same time, the ‘IRL’ (In Real Life) space visitors while exploring the simulation can interact with physical objects, which correspond to those in the digital world. Interestingly, individuals walking through the physical space are represented in the digital exhibition as ghostly outlines.

Thresholds’ layering of reality and unreality investigates an unexplored facet of Virtual Reality by picking apart the way the technology relates to physical objects; it also builds a link between new and historical media. The simulated exhibition presents early technological developments and is in part based on William Fox Talbot’s 1839 exhibition at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, which explored the then-new medium of photography. The original photographs in the exhibition no longer exist since Fox Talbot had not resolved photographic fixing methods at the time. By revisiting the exhibition, Mat Collishaw not only restores lost imagery but also incorporates early photography into contemporary conversations around obsolete or disintegrating media.

Inevitably, by revisiting historical media the project also revisits historical contexts and connects them to the present day. Visitors within the simulated exhibition can hear the chanting of Chartists outside as they protest the replacement of human labour by machine labour during the Industrial Revolution. These protests find their echo today in current concerns over the replacement of jobs by algorithms and robots.

Thresholds will be presented in four venues across the UK in 2017. The exhibition starts in May at Somerset House, London, before moving to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in June, Lacock Abbey in September, and National Media Museum Bradford in November.

Collishaw’s Kickstarter campaign has been devised to make the exhibition as accessible as possible by reducing entry fees. Supporters who pledge £70 or more will receive an exclusive digital edition of Breaking Faith, a new work by the artist on Sedition. Breaking Faith is a video which reflects on the fugitive nature of Fox Talbot's early photographic prints and their subsequent evolution into the digital realm.
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Mat Collishaw
Mat Collishaw
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