This Artist Creates Oil Paintings Inspired By Virtual Reality

Rachel Rossin
Rachel Rossin / Rachel Rossin

Artist Rachel Rossin wants to show that the worlds of the virtual and the real are not so far apart. Her latest project, “Lossy,” blends age-old oil painting techniques with the latest virtual reality technology to illustrate the ways in which the real and the virtual fade into each other—and the results are visually stunning.

Currently on display at the Zieher Smith and Horton gallery, “Lossy,” which refers to a form of entropy in data encoding, includes both oil paintings and sprawling virtual reality landscapes. The latter can be viewed on Oculus Rift headsets, which allow viewers at the gallery to float freely through Rossin's digital microcosm, ascending staircases, exploring floating structures, and experiencing the virtual landscape in 360 degrees.

According to Rossin, the paintings and virtual reality inform each other—she began by sketching out drafts of the oil paintings, then brought those images into the digital realm. She explains that the finished paintings are inspired by virtual reality where “worlds are set loose on themselves: gravity finds itself inverted and once strictly 2-d paintings are repurposed in cloth dynamics simulations."

Rossin told mental_floss, "We maintain a gut-level feeling that our real world and our virtual world are very disparate entities without overlap—but when I look at my life and work in Virtual Reality it's clear these lines don't exist."

Check out some of her work below:

All images courtesy of Zieher Smith & Horton

"Lossy" can be viewed at the Zieher Smith & Horton gallery in New York City through November 14th.