James Glaisher charted his balloon’s path in 1862,  England. Internet Archive. 


This project was generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council and the Government of Ontario


Chronicles of an Aeronaut (VR + Oil Painting) - 2021

Watching the invisible ocean of air that we live in, it's hard to forget that our bodies do not end at the lining of the skin. Our existence is not bound by physical presence. Consider this an invitation to feel the forms, plights and sensitivities of other species. Consider this an invitation to broaden your sensoria, to understand the mystery of existence through the eyes of the other. Mixing the spirit of poetry and science, the flights of the early aeronauts, the travelers of the sky, transformed our view of the world. These atmospheric adventures captivate every human's inner soul, as the medium which forms the aeronauts practice is air,  the same medium which fills our lungs everyday; the medium in which we live, die, move, and exist in.  "Chronicles of an Aeronaut" is a project that creates connections between futuristic and analogue image making techniques. Using virtual reality and painting, my objective is to create a series of oil paintings that are inspired by the aeronauts fascination with our world, and their desire to explore and reach new heights never reached before. I am specifically inspired by the sketches and words of meteorologist, aeronaut and astronomer, James Glaisher in in his 1971 journal, Travels in the Air.  At the heart of the below renders lies a hot air balloon, the traveling vehicle. The balloon exists in an empty landscape, coexisting with birds and butterflies. During the travels of the early aeronauts, birds were used as a measurement for oxygen levels. As the aeronauts ascend further up into the skies, they would release birds, some would fly down and survive, and some drop down towards earth like a stone drowning in the ocean, having no chance of survival because of the low oxygen levels. The spirits of the birds embody the ghosts that exist in this world. Within this environment, I used virtual reality and painting to play with a sense of infinite perspective and interact with its simulated height. The beauty of VR as a tool for process was being able to experiment in virtual space with the skybox, delicately exploring each terrain in different times of the day. The skybox is a catalyst of immersion, enveloping the viewer within the corners of the cosmos. Using Unity I rendered this 3D world as an equirectangular image. This image was then translated into the real world via painting. This process allowed me to translate the infinite and distorted quality of VR landscapes into a two dimensional painting. The second phase is using oil painting to paint the virtual compositions, mimicking their sense of infinite perspective and perceptual depth. Virtual reality is chosen as the first medium, not to produce the final result but as a tool in the production pipeline. Using the translucency and delicacy of oil paints, the sensation of infinite depth in VR will be translated to the real world through layers of paint.

Tools: Unity,  Substance Painter, Substance Designer, Photoshop, Houdini Side FX, Oculus Rift & Oil Painting


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