In this exclusive video, Laurie Anderson presents her prizewinning virtual reality work from 2017: “I wanted to see what it would be like to travel through stories, to make the viewer feel free,” the legendary multimedia artist says.
Laurie Anderson’s ‘Chalkroom’ (2017) has been created in collaboration with the Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang. In ‘Chalkroom’ it is possible to float around virtually and to explore a hand-drawn universe of sentences and words written in chalk on the walls, guided all the while by Laurie Anderson’s voice – stories and storytelling are at the heart of the work.
You can interact in different ways and e.g. experience letters intermittently floating towards you: “Like snow, they’re there to define the space and to show you a little bit about what it is. But they’re actually fractured languages, so it’s kind of exploded things.” The most important aspect of working in virtual reality for Anderson was the fact that this technology enables you to fly, “like in your dreams.” Anderson feels that everything that she’s ever done is about one thing: disembodiment. In virtual reality, this is even more evident, as you become the ultimate viewer, who has amazing abilities such as flying: “My goal is to make an experience that frees you.”
Being inside Anderson’s VR work is an isolated experiment not unlike reading a book, and one of the things that make it different is that it isn’t task-oriented but rather “visually dazzling.” Another difference is that it isn’t as “perfect, slick and shiny” as VR is in general: “The reason it’s ‘chalk room’ is it has a certain tactility and made-by-hand kind of thing, and it’s the opposite of what virtual reality usually is, which is distant and very synthetic. So this is gritty and drippy and filled with dust and dirt.” Moreover, Hsin-Chien Huang – who is responsible for the extensive programming – made it full of never-ending secrets: “’Chalkroom’ is a library of stories, and no one will ever find them all.”
Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is a legendary award winning multimedia artist based in New York. Initially trained as a sculptor, she has worked with painting, music, multimedia shows, drawings, operas, electronic software, theatre, films and installations throughout her career. Anderson became widely known outside the art world with her single ‘O Superman’, which reached number two on the UK pop charts in 1981. She is considered a pioneer of electronic music and is praised for her unique spoken word albums and multimedia art pieces. Among her most recent work is the film ‘Heart of a Dog’ (2015). In 2017 under the name of ‘La Camera Insabbiata’, ‘Chalkroom’ won for ‘Best VR Experience’ at the Venice Film Festival. Anderson's visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe. From May 2017 Laurie Anderson’s ’Chalkroom’ is on view at the MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, USA. For more about Anderson see: laurieanderson.com/
Laurie Anderson was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in connection with ‘Chalkroom’ being shown as part of the Louisiana Literature festival 23 – 27 August 2017.
Camera: Mathias Nyholm & Simon Weyhe Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art