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Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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This Tilt Brush art show puts the spotlight on actual issues, not emails

open your eyes
This Tilt Brush art show puts the spotlight on actual issues, not emails

These past few months, pre-election day, have been rough. As hard as I may try avoiding all the hateful rhetoric in the world, they find their way to burrow in my ears regardless. But at least the chaos, the wishing for pre-election hibernation, the replacing of a certain word with “November” in Green Day’s magnum opus hit, will soon be finite as this hellhole of an election finally draws to a close tomorrow evening. That is, unless a certain red-faced candidate refuses to accept the outcome—an unfortunately likely scenario.

But art has always been there to couple alongside contentious politics, to draw focus to the often forgotten or ignored issues. It’s especially been a problem in this particular presidential race: where “scandalous” emails, insults, and woeful ignorance of international issues have been at the forefront—and what needs to be done to benefit the U.S. instead left to the wayside. Luckily, MTV has swooped in to change that dialogue. Starting last week, they’ve hosted curated, Tilt Brush-powered paintings in the Open Your Eyes virtual reality art show. Open Your Eyes features 18 different artists, all bringing light to a variety of issues like immigration, climate change, gun violence, police brutality, and social issuesThe Tilt Brush-created paintings in Open Your Eyes vary from the highly literal (JCORP’s piece on anti-slut shaming), to the metaphorical (ThankYouX’s lifejackets representing the plight of refugees).

varying from the literal to metaphorical

In Grace Miceli’s “Bunny Protest,” she tries to call for active engagement in activism at any level of involvement, be it donating to charity, attending protests, or just bringing up issues from within social circles. “The cartoon characters [in “Bunny Protest”] aim to subvert a traditional understanding of entertainment,” Miceli writes in the description of her VR painting. “Instead of escaping or zoning out, the viewer is asked to wake up and engage with reality.” And in VR, there’s no getting away from the work itself. There’s no excuse to turn away, as you might a particularly polarizing piece of art. Instead, it literally surrounds you. No excuses.

You can read more about Open Your Eyes’ varied pieces here, and check out them all out in virtual reality or desktops on SketchFab.

Fabiola Lara, "Naturalization: The Game"
Fabiola Lara, “Naturalization: The Game”
Hayden Zezula, "eyes"
Hayden Zezula, “eyes”
JCORP, "Not Your Baby"
JCORP, “Not Your Baby”
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