Bendtwist III and more art by Thomas Wilcox

Bendtwist III, 2020
Sculpture VR

"In a physical world cluttered with monuments, finding room for new public art takes political skill if not talent, vision, and funding. Starting small might seem like your only option.
Instead, try spreading 3D modeled art and architecture across infinite procedural landscapes. There's room for everything in virtual worlds. Disperse your software defined environments right now on the Internet or maybe someday throughout the cosmos with spacetime-independent, quantum entanglement.

I had a studio course in 1989 taught by sculptor Stephen DeStabler. Walking across campus one evening he asked about my day job and I told him that I designed computer games. He wanted to know what was on the technology horizon and I said Virtual Reality. I speculated that artists would soon make sculpture in VR not meant for the physical world. With a wry smile DeStabler said, ""That's a scary thought, Tom."

Today I make monumental polygon meshes unconstrained by physics or economics. Meshes come from scanning handmade maquettes and clay figures, from digital sculpting, 3D modeling, and from fractal terrain generators. Many projects need custom HCI controls. Programming and testing these software tools inspire new types of digital art. I think of my VR world-spaces like follies that I'll open to the public one day, later deeding them to my descendants.

"Bendtwist III is sculpture made of polygon mesh with a metallic bronze surface, and displayed in virtual reality. The VR world-space is an endless plain of dry, hard packed mud under a cloudless sky. The time is late afternoon. Intermittent wind is the only sound. Observers move under, around, and over the sculpture with a navigation control interface adopting a balloon-flight mental model. Interface devices are Oculus (Meta) touch controllers, Xbox game pad, or keyboard and mouse. Bendtwist III is a mental rotation experiment. Mental rotation ability allows us to imagine how an object might look from other angles and viewpoints. The ability or capacity to mentally rotate complex, three-dimensional objects varies from person to person.

exhibited by:

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