Debuting in the New Frontier exhibition at the Sundance Film Festival, Rachel Rossin’s new virtual reality piece, The Sky Is A Gap, is an unprecedented installation that breaks new ground in the medium. Defying the laws of time, the piece presents an exhilarating experience that is simultaneously communal and unique.

Viewers put on a VR headset, bringing them into a landscape at the center of which they confront the exterior of a smoking Brutalist-style building. As the viewers move closer, the structure detonates in a fiery cloud that turns into a haze of soaring debris. This visceral moment treads the line between apocalypse and release.

In addition to experiencing the event in 360 degrees like all VR works, each viewer is able to control or “scrub” time through his or her own movement within the piece, both speeding up the fiery denouement or alternately traveling backwards, both physically and sequentially. As a result, each experience of the work is intuitively responsive to the viewer and distinctive to each individual. However, the multiple, simultaneous viewers can also sense each other’s presence, viewing one another as ghosts in the landscape, creating an uncanny social experience.

The imagery, itself, was inspired by the finale scene of Antonioni’s cult classic film Zabriskie Point. Crossing the threshold of the pyroclastic smoke, one is virtually assaulted by countless objects reflecting contemporary culture. Alluding to the line between where the success of developed cultures and societies fall prey to sheer excess, the huge array of objects include precise specificity, such as pages from specific books ranging from Be Here Now by Ram Das to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter to Entropy and the New Monuments by Robert Smithson. At any given time/space-position, the viewer can move circularly around the center point for a different perspective on the frozen scene, while the debris continues to rotate in space and the objects' surfaces continue to degrade.

Rossin is a critically acclaimed artist, both for her ground-breaking work in virtual reality as well as for her insightful paintings. She has been featured in press including Forbes, W Magazine, ArtForum, New York Magazine, Wired, Newsweek, and The New York Times, where Martha Schwendener wrote of her debut show at New York gallery ZieherSmith: “Ms. Rossin has achieved something, forging a connection between abstract painting and augmented perception that opens up a fourth dimension that existed only in theory for earlier painters.”

Born in 1987, Rossin lives and works in New York City. She was recently the subject of a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia curated by Art in General. Her work will be seen in forthcoming museum shows at the Hek Museum in Basel; Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, and K11 in Shanghai, as well as a new commission for the First Look at New Museum, New York.

The Sky Is A Gap was made possible with support from: The Zabludowicz Collection, London; Patty Quillin; Nvidia; Alienware; Technicolor; and Borscht Corp.

top