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London artist captures blind people’s hidden dreams using mixed reality

mixed reality artLondon, United Kingdom / Helsinki, Finland – September 29, 2023 – London-born artist David Van Eyssen is set to reveal a groundbreaking mixed reality art installation during the week of the Frieze art fair in London on October 11-15, 2023, in collaboration with Varjo, the global leader in professional-grade VR/XR hardware and software, and The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), UK’s leading sight loss charity.

The installation – titled The Private Life of Public Transport – is an interactive sound and image sculpture designed to be experienced by both sighted and non-sighted visitors. Harnessing the power of Varjo’s highest resolution virtual reality and mixed reality headsets, the Unity engine and AI, it highlights the hidden lives of British people living with sight loss.

“I was interested in working with people with sight loss, people who had been rendered unseen by the sighted world, but had discovered ways of navigating it. Invisibility is the heart of this piece, the realisation that we’re often hidden from each other, and from ourselves,” says artist David Van Eyssen.

To bring this unseen experience to life, blind and partially sighted volunteers, sourced by RNIB, shared their personal dreams and reflections on sight loss with the artist. Their first person accounts provide an intimate snapshot of the particular challenges and barriers people with sight loss often face. Lord David Blunkett, British Labour Party politician and a Member of the House of Lords, who has been blind since birth, provides one of the moving first person accounts in the installation.

Lord David Blunkett commented on his involvement, “This is a novel project which seeks to break new ground. I was happy to contribute, not least because using art as a means of communication, information and opening minds can be beneficial to so many people in a variety of ways.”

By using spatial audio in the work, both non-sighted and sighted people can navigate through sound, and share the mixed reality art experience. Additionally, by curating visual and tactile elements outside the virtual experience, such as braille wallpaper provided by RNIB, sighted and non-sighted visitors will have the opportunity to explore a world that is all too often hidden and take part in conversations that have the power to shift perspectives.

“Mixed reality is a new, largely unexplored art medium, with incredible potential due to its ability to immerse participants in experiences that would not be possible to simulate otherwise,” said Cassandra Syfrett, Marketing Manager at Varjo. “We’re proud to be powering this unique art exhibition with our leading-edge technology to raise awareness and broaden the understanding on sight loss, and continue exploring new territories with pioneering artists.”

Experience the groundbreaking installation first hand

Describing the installation, artist David Van Eyssen explains, “An abandoned bus, fragmented by time and memory, stands frozen at the center of a dark lake. Crossing the water towards the vehicle, spheres materialise that contain the voices of the missing passengers — people who live without sight, invisible to the seeing world. As we continue to explore the installation, the implication that this work concerns our own blindness is inescapable.”

This powerful immersive installation will be available to experience during the week of London Frieze art fair, 11-15 October 2023 from 2-8pm daily. There will be an open reception on Friday, October 13 from 5-8pm.

Location: Virtual Ghost, 36 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8DP

To reserve a time to experience this one-of-a-kind immersive work of art first-hand, RSVP at the link below.

Reserve your slot

For press inquiries, please reach out to events@varjo.com.

Meet The Collaborators:

About Varjo
Varjo (pronounced var-yo) makes revolutionary VR/XR hardware and software that together allow you to see and experience virtual and augmented content just as clearly as you see the analog world around us. Our virtual and mixed reality headsets take you to another level of performance and emotional immersion – recreating the exact feeling and conditions of real life, allowing you to perform better and learn faster. www.varjo.com

About David Van Eyssen
Originally a painter and installation artist in London before moving to Los Angeles where he became a pioneer in online entertainment and advertising, David uses media and technology to explore time, memory and consciousness. After being treated for a life-threatening illness, he returned to his art practice in 2018, fusing his instincts as a painter with his experience as a filmmaker in projection and screen-based sound and motion works, more recently extending his practice to include AI “generative extrapolations”, and XR experiences. www.davidvaneyssen.com

RNIB, The Royal National Institute for Blind People
We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) – the UK’s leading sight loss charity which offers practical and emotional support to blind and partially sighted people, their families and carers, as well as campaigning to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are. www.rnib.org.uk

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