Artist Satu-Minna Suorajärvi teaches teens to use virtual reality beyond gaming

A few weeks ago visual and media artist Satu-Minna Suorajärvi held a workshop for young people in Brighton. This is what happened:

What did you do in the workshop?

“The participants learned to use the software for creating 3D worlds, to watch them with the virtual reality glasses, and to share them with their friends. The technique is adaptable for different interests. Some were natural storytellers, and they created plotted stories moving between multiple worlds, while some concentrated in one world, which became a virtual reality gallery. The participants who wanted to dance and perform projected virtual reality world on the wall and remixed it like DJs.”

What fascinates in the virtual reality?

“It combines my interest in film, animation and sculpture. When you put on VR glasses, the experience is, at it’s best, immersive, holistic and addictive.”

How did the participants react on the workshop?

“The participants learned the techniques quickly and started to download games. I was surprised how attractive and easy it is to buy games. I want to give opportunities for young people to create worlds by themselves and in teams, so they wouldn’t just stay on the commercial platforms. At first it was difficult to keep the participants away from games, but by the end of the week, they started to realize the possibilities of 3D technique and concentrate on learning.”

What’s the future of the virtual reality and the arts?

“I don’t think that the need for traditional craftsmans and professional artists is going to decrease, because the question is how to mix the new techniques with the old ones. You need traditional filmmaking skills so you know how to create exciting, interesting and engaging experiences. Projecting and 3D printing will be a big thing. The technical requirements for museums and galleries are not too demanding, but it is important that the organisations familiarise themselves with the new techniques. It is wonderful that the brand new art museum Amos Rex, opened in Helsinki this autumn, is presenting an immersive and magnificent media art.”

Why it is important to have these workshops?

“I think it is my duty as a visual artists, both to show my own pieces, and to share my knowledge. I’m passing on the visual tradition, in my own way. I’ve studied classical sculpture, which is based on moulding and drawing of figure, so I can teach how to draw human figures. At the same time young people learn how to look media art. I never leave the workshops empty-handed, for the young people teach me in turn.”

The Finnish Institute in London supported the workshop.

Text: Anna Suoninen


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