A massive fried egg, melting globe, and an exaggerated sized bear trap are laid out in the Arizona desert. The large-scale sculptures, each 20 feet in diameter, are built from various plastics and plasters on top of wooden frames. Sculptor/street artist Jaime Toll (a.k.a. Mr. Toll) and curator Gabija Grusaite brought the sculptures to life using virtual reality technology for an installation titled Virtual Borders: Arizona.
Grusaite tells The Creators Project, “Street art was never really serious, there is always an element of a joke, some sense of displacement and self-irony. But these are the universal symbols of life and death used by every culture.” The sculptures were photographed using 3D technology and run through VirtueEye’s iPhone application.
“Arizona became a first site for Virtual Borders just because we thought it is kinda funny that it was part of Mexico hundred years ago and now high profile wannabe politicians are calling for a wall.” says Grusaite.
During the launch event in North Brooklyn, visitors looked through virtual reality goggles, attached with an iPhone 6, that transported participants to the Arizona desert where they could look on at the three sculptures as if they were there in the desolate arid place. Grusaite says, “the intention was never to create objects of beauty or desire. The idea was simplicity that would cross over different realms of life and people could immediately relate.”
In 2014, Mr. Toll’s small clay street sculptures caught Grusaite’s eye and the curator invited him to do a project in the Malaysian jungle. The two developed a project that included the sense of remoteness that would be made more accessible through virtual reality.
Toll was raised in Australia and has been living and working in Brooklyn for 12 years. When Toll took his ex-wife to visit his home country, she was denied access at Australian customs. The absurdity of the experience made Toll aware of the realities immigrants have to face.
Grusaite was born in Lithuania, went to college in London, and now lives in Malaysia. The geographical and cultural diversity Grusaite experienced in her life makes her think about how people move around this world, and how borders are created to limit that. She explains to The Creators Project why virtual reality became so appealing, “This is an experience of looking and exploring something while not being physically present. There is photography and video, but with virtual reality, the spectator is provided viewing points as if it is part of the landscape.”
Virtual Borders will be releasing their app in Os and Android capabilites for free download.