“Dimensions to Expressions”
First Arab Virtual Reality Artist talks Changing Times and VR
You may have gotten fascinated by Bahrain’s Dilmun civilization in one way or the other, however have you gotten the chance to witness the archaeological themes of Dilmun recreated through a virtual environment? If not, you should check out amazing work done by Bahrain’s VR artist ‘Najla Al-Khalifa’. Virtual Reality and its branches have certainly been gaining momentum as new experiences and innovations have to work round the clock to meet people’s rising expectations. And one such phenomenon is the Virtual Reality Art, which makes use of a VR headset to create a virtual space. Weekender had an interesting interaction with Najla, one of the first Arab VR artists, who allows viewers to experience a walk into her virtual paintings that touch upon the themes of art history, archaeology, and the human condition. She recently held a talk at the Art Centre at which she shared her aspirations to continue exploring different possibilities with her Virtual Reality art as well as continue her dreams of becoming a lecturer and author. Here’s what she had to share with us:
W. What attracted you the most about creating a fusion between art and the VR world?
Najla: A combination of my studies in art history as well as my interest in new technology lead me to purchasing a VR headset to create my art and experiences. VR art gives a completely new view on art that is immersive, in that the viewer will not only observe a VR piece, but will also experience it. VR art presents similar qualities to installation art, with the exception of more freedom to create within the virtual world, and without the limit of the physical installation piece itself.
W. What were the major setbacks you faced while creating a mark in the world as a female VR artist?
Najla: So far, I have been fortunate enough to have an extremely positive support system from friends, family, as well as a lot of curious people on social media. I am also happy to be a part of the growing VR art community from around the world that consist of both male and female VR artists.
W. How many projects have you taken up in Bahrain and what has the response been like?
Najla: My VR work was accepted as a part of the 45th Bahrain Annual Fine Arts show that took place in February of 2019. I was excited for my piece to be the first of its kind to be exhibited during the show. I have been met with diverse responses to my VR work from the public, most of them not understanding how the VR work is created. The amount of curious messages I receive on my social media accounts lead me to organize an art talk to demonstrate how I work in this new medium.
W. What does the future hold for women trying to make a mark in non-traditional career choices?
Najla : Technology will keep developing, and so will new ways of communicating and working. Staying up to date with any new advancement in technology is essential, because new technical skills will most probably need to be learned.
W. Your advice to budding VR artists and why they shouldn’t give up so soon?
Najla: I would advise young VR artists to stay up to date on the upcoming technological advancements. Both their artistic capabilities and computing vocabulary will grow with time, and become essential to the tech heavy future that the world is moving towards. Also, being a part of the ever-expanding VR art community is fruitful and rewarding.