AMA: I make art in virtual reality

Paul Michael
Mar 28, 2018

My name is Paul Michael and I am a virtual reality artist who creates art installations. I wanted to share my thoughts about VR and answer any questions. I am creating 12 VR installations called Time Hotel. Each space combines data, objects, and other fragments of my day-to-day life recombined to create ridiculous and humorous landscapes. More info about my work can be found on my website at 

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How do you find working in a medium where the technology itself is shifting and changing and moving all the time?
Apr 3, 7:12AM EDT0
What innovations should you as an artist be focusing on now?
Apr 2, 8:56PM EDT0
Do you see virtual reality and augmented reality as separate?
Apr 2, 6:54PM EDT0
What’s a definition of virtual reality that you hope we ultimately end up with?
Apr 2, 6:25PM EDT0
How does VR change the way that we think?
Apr 2, 9:57AM EDT0
How do you see other artists accelerating the possibilities of AR and VR?
Apr 2, 6:13AM EDT0
Do you think you’ll continue to make art within VR or you will also explore other realms?
Mar 31, 12:58PM EDT0
Were video games part of your life on the stage when you got attracted to art and VR?
Mar 31, 12:21PM EDT0
How important do you consider the idea of performance when using virtual reality? Do you design your work to be watched, as much as to be experienced firsthand?
Mar 31, 2:30AM EDT0

That's a great question and something I've been grappling with for a while now. I'm always questioning what the primary artwork is when I'm sculpting in VR. The videos of the work have a completely different experience compared to the 3D files. Sometimes installations don't photograph well, and they work more on an experiencial way. For instance, I was working  on some drawings called 100 Gestures where viewers would have to pull themselves through the space a great distance to see the drawings. 

Mar 31, 8:55AM EDT0
How did you consider the ‘reality’ of your objects, making them both in and out of VR?
Mar 30, 2:08PM EDT0

Not sure if I understand you question as I have only sculpted the Time Hotel objects in VR (and not in physical space). 

Mar 31, 8:48AM EDT0
Does VR have scope to change how we think of sculpture or art galleries altogether?
Mar 30, 8:34AM EDT0

It has the possibility to change how we see everything around us, including art and art galleries. I think/hope that galleries will start investing in headsets/computers for VR installations. At the moment (at least as I have experienced) galleries want artists to bring their own devices (which can be nerve-racking if the artist has to leave their studio set up in the hands of a gallery).

Mar 31, 8:47AM EDT0
In what ways can machine learning improve non-verbal interactions in VR?
Mar 30, 4:47AM EDT0

I don't have a background in computer science so I can only talk in general terms, but I can imagine that new features like the Tobii eye tracker if integrated with a headset would allow developers to understand which games/apps are most successful. 

Mar 31, 8:40AM EDT0
How would you describe the unique mentality required for VR artwork?
Mar 29, 6:18PM EDT0

Think three dimensionally first and two dimensionally second. You need to create content which is interesting to explore in VR but you still need to be able to take photographs and videos of the work so that a larger group of people can see the art. 

Mar 29, 7:32PM EDT0
What are the non-gaming uses VR would be perfectly suited for?
Mar 29, 3:36PM EDT0

I personally don't use VR for gaming and I know there are a few communities out there (like the Quill animation community and the Oculus medium sculping groups) which have a lot of activity (studio visits through Facebook live as well as other events). Outside of content creation, VR Chat (through Steam) is a great way to meet up with an online community in a virtual space. 

Mar 29, 7:30PM EDT0
What are some practices the art industry can use when seeking partnerships with VR/AR technologists and engineers?
Mar 29, 11:55AM EDT0

If by art industry you are talking about galleries than I think VR has opened the door for online galleries to emerge in an exciting new way by offering VR content to those who have headsets. I know that there are also some VR apps that allow you to visit museums and interact with artwork from home. The art educational aspect is huge. 

Mar 29, 7:25PM EDT0
Is it possible for VR to change human perception and as such affect a person’s imagination?
Mar 29, 9:51AM EDT0

I'd say so. Although I used to occasionally lucid dream before VR, I now lucid dream much more frequently and sometime dream that I'm building a dream. 

Mar 29, 7:23PM EDT0
What are some of the ways in which VR might be detrimental to art?
Mar 28, 5:30PM EDT0

On a conceptual level? I don't think new mediums hurt exisiting ones. On a physical level, I am a little worried about people's eye health. 

Mar 29, 7:21PM EDT0
How would you describe your personal vision with the work on your website?
Mar 28, 4:16PM EDT0

I think of my work as an exploration of identity through the lense of a digital environment. The work explores my personal consumption of materials and time. I want to continue to push the work forward as I move into graduate studies and I hope the work opens the doors to more questions than answers. 

Mar 29, 7:20PM EDT0
Is creativity as valuable as technical acumen in VR and why?
Mar 28, 2:37PM EDT0

Creativity is just as valuable as any technical decision in my opinion. There aren't the same limitations in VR that there are in physical space (when it comes to creating environments) so I think it's vitally important to take risks. 

Mar 29, 7:15PM EDT0
What are common mistakes artists make with VR art installations?
Mar 28, 1:07PM EDT0

A mistake I've run into lately is making installations that are bigger than what my computer can handle. The larger a drawing is the glitchier it can be and can potentially give people a headache.

Mar 29, 7:11PM EDT0
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