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New Frontier - Grisalle
by Karen Pecota

Created by experimental artist Teek Mach, Grisaille is a a two-part mixed reality painting experience. Mach says that in 2016, she traded her paintbrushes in for a headset and began her journey to paint with virtual reality tools and techniques. She spent over 6,000 hours developing in the virtual reality world and discovered that the technology could be a viable communication tool for the art world and its creators. There are two parts to her storytelling.

Mach tells us, "The name Grisaille is an artist term that comes from an oil painting technique from the 15th century that uses shades of grey to imitate sculpture. The process uses thin layers of colors on top to create a stunning effect of light." This multi-step process used by the Renaissance painters was their trick to create 3D objects in two dimensions in order to make their subjects appear to have a unique glow. Mach took this ancient visual trick and applied it to the advanced technology using additive light brushes to layer color to bring the tradition into a new art form. The projections then come from a live Tilt Brush virtual camera feed through an HTC Vive Pro. Mach tells her story in two parts and in two separate rooms. The whole experience is roughly twenty minutes in length.

PART ONE: the under painting as soon as you enter a dark hallway and affix the Oculus Go headset.

PART TWO: the glaze. In this room the artist in her real-life self state stands before you, bringing your presence into the story and immortalizing you inside a never-ending painting with those who have shared the Grisaille experience. Award-winning composer, Joel Douck adds his layered audio sounds of the festival and original music to give Machs' Grisaille the final touch.

Mach explains her art form, "When I started developing in VR (Virtual Reality), there was a sense of empowerment because I no longer had to obey the laws of physics. It was something I could control, and the sense of freedom I experienced is something I wanted others to experience." She continues, "For centuries, painters have been limited by two dimensions and sculptors limited by gravity. VR has none of these limitations; it opens up a new outlet for expression, making it the ultimate artist's palette." Grisaille is the art form Mach uses to bring humans closer together beginning with the self-reflection of the artist.

Mach's artist design and presentation was the most enjoyable experiences I've had in the VR world. Amazingly creative!