Is Virtual Reality an Art or Can It Be Used to Create Art

Virtual reality (VR) technology has made significant strides in recent years, expanding its applications beyond gaming and entertainment. As VR continues to evolve, the question of whether it can be considered an art form has become increasingly relevant.

With immersive experiences that transport users to new dimensions, the integration of VR into the realms of art and creativity has the potential to reshape the way we engage with and define artistic expressions.

Artists around the world have already begun incorporating VR into their work, blurring the lines between traditional art forms and cutting-edge technology. These creative endeavours tap into the power of virtual reality to conjure unique, multi-sensory experiences that evoke an emotional response from audiences.

The interactive nature of VR challenges the conventional passive observer dynamic, encouraging a deeper level of engagement in artistic representations.

In acknowledging this growing influence, prestigious institutions and galleries have begun offering platforms for exploring virtual reality art. Examples such as the Virtual Online Museum of Art (VOMA) showcase a diverse range of artwork in entirely virtual spaces, enabling visitors to remotely connect and appreciate the creativity that lies at the intersection of art and technology.

As virtual reality art continues to develop, the conversation surrounding its place in the world of art grows more complex and ever-evolving.

Defining Virtual Reality Art

Virtual reality (VR) art is a form of creative expression that utilises technology to enable individuals to interact with computer-simulated environments. These environments can be based on real or imagined places, and the term “virtual reality” gained popularity in the early 1980s thanks to computer scientist Jaron Lanier.

As a post-convergent art form, VR art combines both art and technology, incorporating elements from various traditional and digital media.

Artists are increasingly turning to VR as a medium for creating and displaying their work. Through VR headsets, they can design and develop art pieces with ease and simplicity, as well as offer the public a unique, immersive art experience.

This innovative technology allows for new ways of exploring conventional artistic themes, such as shape, colour, and space, while also offering unparalleled possibilities for interaction and viewer engagement.

Collecting VR art, however, is a different endeavour compared to purchasing traditional art, as it often tends towards “‘openness and access and not scarcity,’ with scarcity, of course, being what drives the art market”.

This means that the art world needs to accommodate the new dynamics brought about by VR and its distribution, as the technology redefines the concept of a unique and valuable artwork.

All in all, virtual reality not only opens up new horizons for artists but also challenges the traditional art market, indicating a shift towards more accessible and innovative means of artistic expression.

As the VR art medium gains traction, both creators and appreciators must adapt to the changes it brings to truly explore the potentials of this relatively new form of art.

History of Virtual Reality in Art

Early Concepts

The origin of virtual reality in art dates back to the early 20th century when artists and inventors started experimenting with immersive environments and different forms of optical illusions.

An example of this early experimentation is the Cineorama, a circular 360-degree cinema which was invented in 1900 and showcased at the Paris Exposition. This invention allowed audiences to experience an immersive visual environment, paving the way for future advancements in virtual reality art.

Another notable milestone in the timeline of virtual reality and art is Morton Heilig’s creation of the Sensorama in 1962. The Sensorama was an arcade-style cabinet that enabled participants to experience multi-sensory films, with visuals, sounds, vibrations, and smells.

This early device showcased the potential for virtual reality as an engaging and transformative art medium.

Modern Developments

In recent years, virtual reality technology has evolved significantly, opening new avenues for artistic expression and changed how art is experienced. One example of modern VR art is the world’s first entirely virtual art museum, which gives viewers an entirely immersive experience in visiting a museum from the comfort of their homes.

This groundbreaking development blurs the lines between physical and digital art spaces, allowing for greater accessibility and novel ways of experiencing art.

Another major shift in the art world has been the combination of virtual reality with performance art, as seen in the work of Marina Abramovic. Collaborations between artists, technologists, and curators have also resulted in VR art projects being exhibited at major art fairs like Art Basel Hong Kong.

These developments have led to new understandings of what constitutes an artwork, expanding the realm of possibilities for contemporary artists.

The integration of virtual reality within art is not only limited to virtual museums or performance art. Artists are also creating mesmerising VR installations that fully immerse viewers in the artwork, pushing the boundaries of traditional mediums.

Collecting virtual reality art is another area that has been receiving attention, with collectors and curators continuously exploring ways to exhibit, catalogue, and preserve these unique immersive experiences.

As virtual reality becomes more intertwined with the art world, it continues to provoke thought and inspire creativity. New developments in VR technology will undoubtedly shape how artists, curators, and audiences engage with art in the future.

Types of Virtual Reality Art

Virtual reality (VR) has broadened the world of art, introducing new mediums for artists and audiences to explore. This section outlines three major categories under which virtual reality art can be classified.

Immersive Installations

Immersive installations utilise VR technology to transport viewers into fully realised, 3D environments. These virtual spaces are designed to engage viewers physically and emotionally, allowing them to become a part of the artwork.

Interactive elements, 3D soundscapes, and motion-tracking capabilities add to the level of immersion, making these installations a truly unique artistic experience. One example includes the collaboration between Art Basel and Google, which launched a virtual reality art project in Hong Kong.

VR Paintings and Sculptures

Virtual reality art extends to the creation of paintings and sculptures within a 3D space. Artists utilise VR tools like Tilt Brush, Oculus Medium, and Quill to ‘paint’ or ‘sculpt’ in an unrestricted virtual environment. This allows for unprecedented artistic freedom and opens up new possibilities for creative expression.

The World’s First Entirely Virtual Art Museum, VOMA, showcases such artworks, providing viewers with an immersive experience as they explore the virtual museum.

Interactive Narratives

Interactive narratives leverage VR to take storytelling to new heights, allowing the audience to engage with stories on a personal and emotional level. This form of VR art often mixes traditional storytelling techniques with cutting-edge technology, creating a unique and immersive experience for the viewer.

An example of this is a TED talk by Chris Milk, in which he explores the potential of virtual reality as a storytelling medium, crafting engaging narratives that captivate audiences.

These categories are just a few of the ways in which virtual reality has opened new doors for artistic expression, offering both artists and audiences new and exciting experiences in the world of art.

Impact on Traditional Art Forms

Changes in Aesthetics

Virtual reality (VR) as an art form has brought about a significant shift in aesthetics. Traditional art forms like painting and sculpture focus on fixed, tangible objects, whereas VR art exposes audiences to a dynamic and immersive experience.

As a result, the boundaries between the observer and the artwork become blurred, allowing for new forms of artistic expression and engagement. This transformative nature of VR art has led to the exploration of new artistic styles, pushing the limits of creativity in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Moreover, the advent of VR has given rise to the use of digital platforms for art production. This process presents novel opportunities for collaboration between artists, often transcending geographical and cultural barriers. As a consequence, audiences may witness a blending of diverse artistic traditions and styles, further broadening the aesthetic landscape of contemporary art.

Influence on Technique

The emergence of virtual reality has also impacted the techniques employed by artists. In traditional art forms, artists typically use a range of physical materials and tools to create their pieces. However, the digital realm of VR art requires a different set of skills and tools, such as advanced computer software and programming languages.

Moreover, the immersive nature of VR art demands a rethinking of traditional techniques in favour of those tailored to the medium. For instance, developing artwork for a 360-degree environment often necessitates a more comprehensive understanding of space and depth.

Additionally, artists must consider the audiences’ interactive engagement with the artwork, which may involve movement, touch, or even sound. Consequently, artists are not only required to adapt their techniques to VR but also navigate a landscape that is entirely new to the world of art.

In summary, virtual reality has had a profound impact on traditional art forms, introducing new aesthetics and techniques that challenge artists to explore the limits of their creativity. Through this ongoing evolution, the world of art will continue to grow and transform, offering unique and engaging experiences for audiences to indulge in and embrace.

Challenges and Criticisms of Virtual Reality Art


Despite the rapid advance of virtual reality (VR) technology, one of the main challenges that VR art faces is its accessibility to a wider audience. While many art lovers can easily access traditional art forms such as paintings and sculptures in galleries, access to VR art may be restricted due to the need for specific hardware like VR headsets. Additionally, the cost of such technology might be prohibitive for some, creating a barrier to experiencing VR art.

Another issue related to accessibility is the potential intimidation felt by those unfamiliar with VR technology. Some may hesitate to explore VR art because they are unsure of how to properly use the required equipment.


As VR art begins to gain traction in the art world, questions about its authenticity and artistic value have become more prominent. Critics argue that VR art might lack the physicality and materiality of traditional art forms, making it challenging to gauge the skills and techniques used in its creation.

Moreover, the reproducibility of digital works raises concerns about scarcity, which is often a driving factor in the art market, making the notion of uniqueness and value more difficult to establish within VR art.

On the other hand, proponents of VR art argue that the medium offers unparalleled creative freedom and immersion, allowing artists to explore new dimensions and challenge conventional artistic boundaries.

Overall, while the challenges and criticisms of virtual reality art are valid, it is crucial not to overlook the innovative potential of this emerging medium. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect VR art to become more accessible and to gain further recognition and appreciation in the ever-changing world of art.

Future of Virtual Reality Art

Technological Advancements

Virtual Reality (VR) technology has made significant progress in recent years, enabling artists to create more immersive and engaging experiences. As VR hardware and software become more advanced and accessible, we can expect to see even more innovative and captivating art forms emerge.

For example, the growth of 360-degree VR experiences has been noted for representing a more sustainable consumption of art. Additionally, the development of haptic feedback technologies will allow artists to incorporate the sense of touch into their VR artworks, further enhancing the overall experience of the viewer.

Expansion of Genres

With the advancements in VR technology, the art world is seeing an expansion of genres, as artists are no longer confined to traditional mediums. As discussed in DW, virtual reality has the potential to redefine art by expanding creative possibilities, influencing how we perceive and engage with artistic creations.

VR has the ability to blend traditional art forms like sculpture, painting, and filmmaking with virtual environments, opening up an entirely new realm of artistic expression.

As more artists embrace the technology, these hybrid art forms are likely to continue to evolve and diversify, offering viewers a continuously growing array of unique and visually stunning virtual experiences.

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