Joseph DeLappe, Self Portrait/Laurie Anderson VR watercolor on paper 8x8", 2018
In the mid-Nineties, while Miltos Manetas was making a series of stunning paintings about the new environments created by technology - depicting wires, cables, joypads, light guns, and even game spaces (his legendary Paintings After Videogames serie is as relevant today as it was twenty years ago) - Joseph DeLappe created traditional oil paintings referencing media portrayals of people utilizing the first wave of virtual reality technologies when Jaron Lanier was venerated as a guru. In 2018, as virtual reality is experiencing a subdued renaissance, Jaron Lanier is still venerated as a guru and DeLappe began a new series of watercolor studies of people using VR equipment, from visors to controllers. These smaller paintings are based on photographs that the artist shot at various VR festivals, university labs, and conferences. As DeLappe writes on his website,
I remain fascinated by our eager embrace and adaptation to current interface technologies – VR remains very awkward, expensive and ungainly to use.
These paintings translate a digital moment into an analog artifact of this moment in time
Joseph DeLappe, John and Yoko in Bed, FOST watercolor on paper 8x8", 2018
This series is also inspired by a different technology of vision. Not VR, but color blind correcting glasses. As the artist writes,
I’ve been colorblind my entire life. I was partially inspired to take on this new series of paintings due to the acquisition of color blind correcting glasses –painting was always a challenge – these new glasses have literally opened up the world to me and have become, in a way, the mechanism towards connecting me to a new reality of color (wearing a different kind of headset if you will – my glasses)…