SchoolArts Magazine

April 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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F or years, I have been using the short film World Builder (youtube.com/ watch?v=VzFpg271sm8) to introduce students to designing special effects. World Builder works especially well as an introduction to 3D graphics. The film opens with the main char - acter in an empty void, in which he eventually builds a virtual world using controls that look familiar to the tool palettes you might find in a graphics program. As I watched the film with my students again this year, I realized for the first time that the content will be less surprising to students in a few years. In the real world, the science is catching up to the fiction. Beyond Virtual Reality This winter, I had the opportunity to test out the Oculus Rift (oculus. com) at the Singapore Science Center. The Oculus Rift is one of the first immersive virtual reality headsets to be released on the consumer market this year. Unlike previous iterations, the rift does not induce nausea or headaches; it simply immerses you in another world of sight and sound, send - ing you into the mind of the subject and creating a 3D space of vibrant and pulsing strings of color that represent the possibilities of the imagination. It's hard to deny those possibilities. When you're able to look and move around a virtual world with the same sort of freedom that you can in the real one, you can instantly imagine how transformative this technology could be. Beyond gaming alone, it is already being developed for use in medical and military training. It's also being used as a new tool for art-making. Sculptural Drawing Artist Glen Keane describes the action of drawing in a virtual space as creating a new way of thinking (you - tube.com/watch?v=GSbkn6mCfXE). He calls it "sculptural drawing" and explains it as the sense that his draw - ings feel present in space and come to life around him. What's fascinat - ing about this technology is that it reverses some of the concerns we might have about the sedentary and passive engagement that comes with creating digital art behind a screen. As you watch Keane manipulate his electronic paintbrush in virtual space, you can see that the act of painting becomes even more kines - thetic than it would be standing in front of a canvas. 3D Space in the Artroom Three-dimensional modeling and design are becoming more in demand Looking at Tomorrow's Technolo for applications in architectural design, product design, animation, and special effects. Although these new tools aren't available commer- cially yet, we can begin this explora- tion of 3D space with our students as early as the elementary level using programs such as Sketchup (sketchup. com) and the popular user-friendly 123D app series from Autodesk (123dapp.com). As artists, we have always looked to the latest technologies to inform new forms of art-making. In 3D mod- eling and virtual reality we will be able to find both new opportunities to create art, and new tools with which to make it. David Gran teaches high school art and film classes at the Shanghai American School in China and is the author of The Carrot Revolution, a blog about twenty- first century art education. carrotrevolu- tion.blogspot.com, dsgran@yahoo.com 24 APRIL 2016 SchoolArts David Gran M E D I A @ r + s

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