NYU Should Take Advantage of Virtual Reality


Henry Cohen, Staff Writer

These past few weeks have seen fantastic demonstrations of virtual reality tech at NYU, from the groundbreaking VR dance program at Tisch to the Jubilee event showcasing short VR video games. These works, produced by students and faculty, range from a short interactive Hamlet scene to a 4D motion simulator and are a testament to the active imaginations and talents displayed at NYU. But it also highlights the artistic potential found in VR itself. Virtual reality is capable of so much that it must be considered its own art form.

What sets VR apart as a burgeoning art form is how adaptable it is to the vision of the arts that employ it. Its utility in dance and game design has already been experimented with, but imagine employing VR to make films, music, paintings or theatrical works. Completely immersing audience members in a work of art is something artists now have access to. In the past, it was much less tangible. This opens up a universe of untapped creative potential in much the same way that the advent of film allowed artists to move their stories from the stage or page to be fully realized on a screen. Experiencing VR reveals the inherent limitations of other mediums; imagine, for example, movies like “Gravity” or “Avatar” produced using this technology and how much more visually stunning they could have been.

At the same time, artists should not exploit VR in gimmicky or superficial ways. 3D film is a similar immersive technique which, while necessary in some movies, has been overused to the point where it distracts from the experience more than enhancing it. If VR is to be used effectively, filmmakers, choreographers and game designers must think carefully about why they are using it and how to best align their use of VR tech with their vision. VR will remain spectacular only as long as it is used skillfully.

VR provides massive opportunities for almost anyone interested in creating art, which will no doubt be taken advantage of by artists here at NYU. It is encouraging that the NYU community has embraced VR in much the same way they have embraced game design —  hopefully the art form will continue to develop and grow in the future.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 13 print edition. Email Henry Cohen at [email protected].