Japanese “device art” brings technology to life

LAVAL, France, May 2 (AFP) – From virtual water that you stir in a real bowl to little digital dwarves to play with, the latest trend from Japan is making technology both fun and thought-provoking. The works of art along the Japanese aisle at the International Conference on Virtual Reality in Laval, western France this weekend are not the sort you find protected behind glass.

On the contrary, it is up to the spectator to bring them to life. “Please touch”, the signs read.

“Virtual reality opens up a whole new space, where the work of art becomes dynamic”, where “the artist is no longer unique”, explains Alain Grumbach, a virtual reality specialist who teaches computer science at the national school of telecommunications in Paris.

Spectators “derive emotion from the images, but also from the possibility they have of changing the course of those images,” Grumbach notes.

The effect is almost magical.

It is an odd sensation, dipping a wooden spoon into an empty bowl and watching it splash around in clear water on the adjacent screen (“Wet-Free Water” by the Nara institute of science and technology, Japan).

It is a funny feeling, pushing a box of tea across a table and feeling a tea