The Le Livart center presents New environments: approaching the untouchable, with the physical and virtual works of seven artists: François Quévillon, Olivia McGilchrist, the duo Laurent Lévesque and Olivier Henley, Sabrina Ratté, Baron Lanteigne and finally Caroline Gagné. A detailed work, but a virtual reality that leaves us hungry.

The exhibition is presented by Molior, a Quebec organization that has produced, since 2001, exhibitions and projects using technology as a means of creation. Molior called on renowned curator Nathalie Bachand to bring together tech-savvy artists and offer both installed works and works that can be viewed, one after the other, with the same Oculus headset.

The works revolve around the theme of nature interpreted through digital technology. Artist Olivia McGilchrist presents Virtual ISLANDs, two videos on the ebb and flow of water and a 7-minute virtual reality (VR) work in which you swim in an aquatic universe where you end up discovering a female form moving slowly. An interesting immersion, a neat and soft digital decor, but a work that does not revolutionize the genre.

With Erosions 2, by François Quévillon, we slowly explore natural environments, particularly rocky ones, on the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The six VR animations didn’t seem more spectacular to us than the Meteor videos that the artist broadcasts on screens. The fact remains that the photogrammetric work necessary for 3D scanning is well done. But once again, we remain on our hunger.

Caroline Gagné has created a work, Autofading_Se Disappear, which is quite original because she takes virtual reality the wrong way. If generally we have to move and move as much as possible to appreciate the virtual universe, in the case of this work, it is quite the opposite. It is only if we do not move at all, not even our head, that we manage to perceive all kinds of animal noises and a pointillist landscape designed by means of millions of small circles of color. A work, this time, original and very well done.

We had already seen the installation Nature Morte 7, by Baron Lanteigne, during the International Biennial of Digital Art (BIAN), last December. In his work made up of flat screens, nature regained control.

It’s the same kind of installation at Livart. The artist adds an VR work, Ascension. We find ourselves suspended in the heart of a liquid and glassy universe that rises and falls while refracting the light. A virtual environment that the artist considers to be in the process of being created. It is already well staged and quite aesthetic.

Laurent Lévesque teamed up with Olivier Henley to create his first VR work, The Conservatory: Another Horizon. It is a virtual botanical garden made up of plants that play a decorative role in 3D video games. Interesting idea that will delight video game enthusiasts who will surely recognize certain plants. With the Oculus helmet, we walk in this exhibition of trees, flowers and plants of all kinds, grafted to a mesh.

Floralia, by Sabrina Ratté, is made up of floral elements that stem from a series of four videos inspired by science fiction and our anxieties about this Anthropocene in which we are immersed. Floralia also evokes our acute dependence on the digital universe. Paradoxical to approach it with VR, but it is a current questioning and Sabrina Ratté leads us to consider it while immersing ourselves completely in these flowers and these plants, a rather enveloping experience. A beautiful work, especially sound, with the collaboration of Andrea-Jane Cornell.

This exhibition, which combines physical works and virtual works, is rather successful because it is interesting. Molior and the curator have chosen brilliant artists, very comfortable with the digital world. New environments: Approaching the untouchable will appeal to an audience that hasn’t experienced much virtual reality yet.

For more experienced fans of this immersive universe, the exhibition may lack flavor. La Presse has been covering the use of VR in the visual arts for exactly 10 years, an often attractive and useful approach to developing a theme like the environment. But the amazement is not always there, contrary to the experiences lived… in the real nature.