Jani Leinonen’s ‘Goodbye Reality’, Art created in the Metaverse
In a pioneering installation, Finnish artist Jani Leinonen invites attendees and collectors into a mesmerizing mixed reality experience.
Harnessing the power of Varjo and Unity engine, he establishes new methods for creativity, brings tangibility to NFTs, and unites digital and physical art in a never-before-seen way.
A metaverse experience, from design to delivery
The Zetterberg Gallery, located on an unassuming side street in central Helsinki, forms the physical base of a cutting-edge art installation, and a thought-provoking technological feat; Jani Leinonen’s ‘Goodbye Reality’ exhibition.
Designed to showcase a positive, creative vision of the metaverse, the exhibition also demonstrates how mixed reality technology can be used to both create and present an immersive, interactive art experience, and bring much-needed clarity to the concept of NFTs.
Pushing boundaries and reality
Since graduating from the Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts in 2002, Jani Leinonen has become one of the Finnish contemporary art scene’s most prominent figures. His playful and provocative works have captured headlines and global attention with bright colors and bold statements.
Jani’s choice to use Varjo mixed reality technology in both the exhibition’s design and presentation communicates that the incoming metaverse, if steered in the right direction, could be an opportunity to provide a better and safer space for human interaction and creativity.
“The metaverse, for me, could be a possibility to do something really incredible socially. It’s a human-made concept and we’re the ones who created it, so I think we have the possibility to think about spaces where we interact totally differently and make them safer. And get rid of all these age-old problems like racism, harassment, bullying, and all that stuff. But it’s not going to happen automatically because the world is full of it, so it’ll follow us unless we stop it.” – Jani Leinonen
“With this exhibition I'm also trying to take part in designing a better metaverse.”
The ‘Goodbye Reality’ experience
Inside the Zetterberg Gallery itself are a selection of Jani’s physical art pieces. With vibrant colors that pop out from the otherwise entirely white walls, the pieces use his signature alphabet designs. Each letter, with uncanny corporate symbolism, seems to play on the subconscious triggers that ubiquitous brands have instilled in us throughout our lives.
On a podium near the entrance sits Varjo’s mixed reality headset. After putting on the headset, visitors will enter a mixed reality experience. They can see the gallery exactly as before, except this time with photorealistic, virtual representations of the same alphabet designs hovering in front of them. They can then reach out and touch each individual letter, moving them, duplicating them, or making them disappear.
The combination of the photorealistic 3D assets rendered with the Unity engine, and the seamless human eye resolution provided by the headset, creates a completely immersive metaverse experience, grounded in reality. “It’s very confusing on purpose. For the audience, to have the virtual works right next to their physical works, it’s difficult to distinguish between them.” – Jani Leinonen
Sculpting the metaverse, in the metaverse
The Varjo headset, before providing such an evocative viewing experience, actually served as a tool for Jani to conceptualise and create the exhibitions’ NFTs. Working in a mixed reality scenario, he was able to sculpt digital 3D assets without the traditional boundaries of scale, or the time constraints of creating physical iterations.
“Creatively it’s so much easier for me to start sculpting and doing paintings, and particularly 3D objects. It’s because I have this visual mind, it’s so hard sometimes on a screen that is flat to start pondering 3D dimensions.” – Jani Leinonen
“What makes this particularly exciting, is that Jani Leinonen has used Varjo to create and design how both his physical works and digital works merge and complement each other. And this exact experience is something that collectors will be able stepping into as well when they put their Varjo headset on”. – Jussi Makinen, Chief Brand Officer, Varjo
Taking the art to heart, and the NFTs home
“Right now, there’s a lot of problems with NFT’s. It’s funny how there are these low-resolution Jpegs and GIFs behind a website, and everybody is wondering ‘what do we do with these things?’, and ‘how do we show them?’ and ‘what’s the use for them?’.” – Jani Leinonen
Jani’s work will be available as NFTs, and Varjo’s headsets have allowed him to improve the practice of owning art as a digital token. Similar to the in-gallery experience, collectors of Jani’s NFTs will be able to view and interact them using Varjo’s headset, but this time from the comfort of their own homes. Suddenly NFT art can gain all the spatial presence of a physical object, and possessing it is now more than just holding a certificate in the hope that it may increase in value.
“As collectors can now purchase NFTs and get a Varjo headset to see, interact and create new versions of the artworks in a photorealistic metaverse, the world is literally stepping into the world of the artist and experience not only the outcome but also the moment of creation. This has never been done before.” – Jussi Mäkinen, Chief Brand Officer, Varjo
Learn more about the exhibition and its technology
To find out more about Jani Leinonen’s ‘Goodbye Reality’ exhibition and his accompanying NFT collection, head to janileinonen.com. To learn more about the technology used to make this cutting edge experience possible, discover Varjo’s mixed reality, and Unity.
Watch the accompanying film to hear the interview conducted with Jani Leinonen on location at the ‘Goodbye Reality’ exhibition.