By Joshua Winslow, Staff Writer
Despite its modest size, the city of Savannah has long provided for its residents and its visitors a rich and vibrant arts scene. The Jepson Center and SCAD Museum of Art were both founded in the early 2000’s, while the Telfair Museum has been hosting visitors since 1886. This past Wednesday, the Telfair Institute launched its 12th annual PULSE Art and Technology Festival, which showcases the intersection of new media and digital art; it went on Jan. 17-21.
Past PULSE events have included 3D scanned replicas of a dinosaur’s windpipes, which allowed visitors to recreate its sounds; exhibits incorporating the blending of DNA; machine learning and other various interactive electronic mediums. The 2018 festival put on display the emerging possibilities presented by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology as envisaged by artists both local and from as far away as Denmark.
In ‘Radiance,’ a VR-based exhibition, Los Angeles natives Teri Yarbrow and Max Almy built upon their artistic background in utilizing physical mediums and interactive art by taking an intentional leap into virtual reality. ‘Radiance’ recreated a mandala suspended in space from which over 5,100 light particles descend around the viewer.
In an entirely digital space, New York-based Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen applied his skill-set gained through video game design to the creation of entire virtual worlds which could be explored in VR. In Steensen’s ‘AQUAPHOBIA’ visitors were able to explore an accurate and to-scale recreation of the Louis Valentino Jr. Park in Brooklyn, only with the vegetation and fauna rolled back to prehistory, creating a distantly familiar, yet new and strange space to explore.
PULSE is curated by Harry DeLorme, Telfair’s Senior Curator of Education, who wished to gather installations that would be both interactive and reflective to show the creative frontiers made possible through emerging technology. Mr. DeLorme hopes that the exhibits here will inspire others to pursue creative ventures through these new mediums. “Tech is not something that is off limits, possibilities have opened up, you can get in and create it.”
During an opening Q&A with the artists, Steensen emphasized the fact that the work presented at PULSE applies to many different fields, and the intersection of practical and digital uses for this work is potentially “explosive.” Yarbrow and Almy are taking steps to realize that potential by launching a BFA program in VR/AR technology to be taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
PULSE will return in 2019, and the Jepson will be hosting pieces that carry on the spirit of the festival in its TECHSPACE gallery. Regular admission to the museum is $8 though a student membership costs only $25 and offers unlimited free admissions, access to exhibition previews and discounted rates on ticketed events.