Virtual Reality – Lecture

Dec 20 Wed
Public Lecture
7:00 - 8:00 pm @ ICA LA

Being There: Virtual Reality from Giotto to Grand Theft Auto

A talk by IFF Director Margaret Wertheim

Place: ICA-LA

Time: Wednesday December 20, 2017. 7:00-8:00pm

The Arena Chapel (detail) by Giotto di Bondone, Padua, 1305.

We are used to thinking of virtual reality (VR) as a technology of the computer era, but in this talk at the ICA-LA, Margaret Wertheim will trace its roots to the Middle Ages. In the 13th century Roger Bacon championed a new kind of representation he called “geometric figuring” and argued for artists to adopt this style as a form of Christian propaganda. Soon, Giotto was painting the Arena Chapel, a medieval environment consciously designed to make visitors feel as if they had been projected into a three dimensional simulation of Christ’s life. Following this thread of imagery through the evolution of what came to be called “perspective,” and on to development of computer-based simulation and video games, Wertheim will discuss a lineage of visual verisimilitude from Giotto to Grand Theft Auto and current efforts to digitally simulate the medieval temple of Angkor Wat.

VR recreation of the 12th century Cambodian temple, Angkor Wat. VR world by Dr. Thomas Chandler, Monash University, Sensilab.

ICA-LA event webpage

About ICA-LA: ICA-LA is a new museum in downtown Los Angeles founded and directed by Elsa Longhauser, former long-time director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art. ICA-LA’s first exhibition is a major retrospective of beloved outsider artist Martin Ramirez and includes a suite of never-before-shown, large-scale Ramirez works. The museum is located at: 1717 East 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021.

About Margaret Wertheim: Margaret is an internationally noted science writer, artist and curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. She is the author of six books, including The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet, and Physics on the Fringe, a sociological study of outsider science, whose protagonist, James Carter, was the subject of a pioneering 2002 exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Wertheim has written for the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesGuardianCabinetAeon, and many others. In 2003, with her twin sister Christine Wertheim, she founded the Institute For Figuring, a non-profit devoted to “the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.” Through the IFF, she has designed art & science exhibits for the Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin) and Mass MoCA (MA). By inviting audiences to play with ideas, her work offers a radical approach to math and science at once intellectually rigorous and aesthetically aware. The Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef project is now the largest participatory art &science endeavor in the world and has been exhibited around globe including at the Museum of Arts and Design (New York) and the Smithsonian (Washington D.C.).