This year, BMW released the BMW Concept 8 Series, which combines peerless design with breathtaking speeds for an unparalleled driving experience. This unabashedly modern and athletic model is slated for a 2018 release. To celebrate, SLEEK will be profiling a series of innovative designers and artists who work with the idea of SPEED. In this installment, we’re interviewing Berlin virtual reality art start-up Radiance VR.
RadianceVR.co are a Berlin duo who curate and display works of what they call “immersive tech.” Their site, which launched just last month, aims to take works from established and emerging artists working in fields from augmented reality to virtual reality to 360 video and display it for the public. Founded by gallerist Tina Sauerländer and artist-technologist Philip Hausmeier, it’s a gallery, almost, but for art made in perhaps the most rapidly changing technological sphere today.
It’s also, of course, a start-up in itself, and sits between art and tech. Twin poles of Berlin’s 2010s acceleration into creative capital of Europe, the art and the tech communities meet surprisingly rarely on the ground, yet within Radiance, they feed off each other. This is a creative venture that belongs in an accelerator, serving as a platform for artists who engage with technology, in a space filled with technologists who often think like artists.
We spoke to the founders Tina and Philip at home, about working with artists in a medium that is changing by the day.
How do you find working in a medium where the technology itself is shifting and changing and moving all the time?
Tina Sauerländer: You have to be quick with everything you do. In terms of VR, we don’t know how the medium will change. For our platform, we are very flexible about the future, because we basically offer the work of others. If people are quick enough to adapt it, then we all present it.
Art has exhibitions, while tech has meet-ups. How do you think physical events can accelerate culture?
Philip Hausmeier: An exhibition is presentation, not so much an exchange of ideas, and it’s not as rapid or speedy as maybe other forms of events – while smaller institutions can turn around a show in a few months, I think the museums plan shows years ahead. But with a meet-up, it’s not relating to any kind of goal, it’s more a form of communication and exchange.
You ran one of the best-attended VR meet-ups here in Berlin. How do you think meet-ups facilitate creation of new ideas and new technologies?
Philip Hausmeier: I think starting the meet-up really functioned as a group to meet other people who were interested and could help me with my questions. I think that idea is still the same, that you can meet somebody really quickly. Maybe somebody is a very good sound designer, some artists want to do something with 3D, somebody’s a great modeller, and somebody has a good sense of concepts, and so they can meet and get together really quickly because it’s open and can exist without direct commercial interests. I tell every artist I know who’s interested to please come to out meet ups.
How does VR change the way that we think?
Tina Sauerländer: It changes so much, but people adapt fast too. It’s a new experience, which is why we distinguish between real and virtual world, but generations that come after won’t make this distinction. People are afraid of losing all social contact in VR, but I don’t think this will happen: we will just add the social component to VR, as we did with other mediums. In the end, we also quickly adjusted to Facebook, or any social media platforms. It’s not a strange thing, it’s another form of communication. On Snapchat, you have all those makeup filters, and in real life, I also put makeup on my face. You know, it’s the same thing, it’s just … digital.
How do you see artists accelerating the possibilities of AR and VR?
Tina Sauerländer: They’re pushing boundaries and at the same time questioning the medium because that’s what artists do, they reflect on the conditions of the world. That’s the big difference to gaming, film, porn industries. They build the stuff on the same programs and it’s very appealing, but it’s the job of the viewer to not forget that this is art, and the viewer has to also ask himself or herself, “Why is this art? What is the point? What does the artist want to tell me about the world?” That’s why we want to focus on visual art to say, “Hey that’s the point! That’s different from other experiences.”
How quickly did you come up with the idea for Radiance, and how quickly did you build the site?
Tina Sauerländer: We had the idea last year and then we had different options of how to do it. It took us a while to find a time to start because we all had different other projects, and then we started building the site, very quickly in the end.
Philip Hausmeier: in a way, I think we also wanted to be independent and have control over what we do. I think it’s important at this stage to not be dictated by other people, so we can stay pure and also flexible.
I think even that has a very natural relationship to the subject of the interview which is speed.
Philip Hausmeier: Yeah, we had this idea of how wanted to do it, and then we just said, “let’s do it.”
Tina Sauerländer: “Let’s do it!”
Philip Hausmeier: and not wait for other people to help us or something, just try to do it ourselves. And that’s when you have this moment of being fast. To be fast and do it, and get it out, because time doesn’t wait forever. What I found interesting is that start ups and artists are very similar – they have an idea and then they have to find – well there’s a lot of resistance, in terms of you don’t have any money – but you have to be bold and sometimes work really crazy hours to achieve that without really knowing actually, hey, is this being recognised by the outside.
Stay tuned for the next installation of SLEEK x BMW’s SPEED series, in light of the ultra-fast BMW Concept 8 Series.