Virtual reality paints Modigliani’s studio in a new light


Virtual reality paints Modigliani's studio in a new light

It was, of course, a virtual reality experience, one that is part of the Modigliani exhibition just starting at Tate Modern. The VR content was created by Preloaded, transporting me from modern day London to fin de siècle Paris, courtesy of a HTC Vive headset.

Welcome to the “Modigliani VR: The Ochre Atelier“, giving a chance to explore Modigliani’s final studio in Paris using HTC virtual reality technology.

There is a “a forensic level of historical research”, promises the Tate, behind the recreation of the 60 objects within the scene, such as the old stove in one corner of the room, or the palette of paints on a table…

In fact a collaborative team of 17 people across the Tate, Preloaded and HTC worked on the project, involving 2D and 3D artists, game designers and developers.

Unity, GPUs, lasers

Built on the Unity virtual reality platform, and using Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPUs, the content is available via nine headsets working off one pair of lasers in the room (pictured below).

Tate Modern writes:

“As part of the most comprehensive exhibition of Modigliani’s work ever held in the UK, The Ochre Atelier brings visitors closer to the artist’s world using Vive’s VR technology. A first for Tate, the VR room with nine Vive headsets is positioned right in the heart of the exhibition. It is a seated experience which takes visitors on a journey through Modigliani’s studio.”

Tate selected BAFTA-winning games and VR studio Preloaded to create the experience, using historical and technical research, working from first-hand accounts by those closest to the artist.

“Preloaded is delighted to have been selected to develop this unique VR experience for Tate and HTC,” said Phil Stuart, Creative Director of Preloaded.

“We designed The Ochre Atelier to utilise the gallery’s context, visitor expectation and technology to deliver a profound experience, which deepens the visitors understanding of the artist and his art.”

Tate Modern adds:

It took more than five months of rigorous research to meticulously recreate the studio, its interiors, objects and the artworks shown. The experience was brought to life by multiple teams at Tate including AV, Conservation, Curatorial and Digital. This involved a research trip to the Parisian studio as well as collaborative work with artists, designers, developers and producers at Preloaded.

If you fancy a vivid trip to the past, the exhibition runs at Tate Modern until 2 April 2018. It’s recommended – the most impressive use of VR that I’ve seen so far.

Behind the scenes

Check out the behind-the-scenes video about the VR experience.