Virtual reality experience sends viewers into Zdzislaw Beksinski’s paintings

This Polish studio is pioneering virtual reality art with Zdzislaw Beksinski’s surreal paintings.

Step into a virtual world of Zdzislaw Beksinski's paintings.

The late Zdzislaw Beksinski is known as one of Poland’s most eminent modern artists thanks to his portrayal of unsettling, surreal landscapes. Beksinki’s mind-bending work has the ability to fascinate and disrupt the viewer, appearing to be otherworldly and often threatening. Polish studio, the 11th Dimension sought to stretch the limitations of Beksinski’s art by allowing the viewer to “step-in” to the ethereal scenes he created.

Launched this year, De Profudis is the 11th Dimension’s prototype of a virtual reality experience that uses Oculus Rift goggles to transport the viewer into Beksinski’s paintings.

The studio reinterpreted some of Beksinski’s most famous work, creating a virtual world that the user can explore and interact with. The scenes, described as desolate and austere, are said to encircle the viewer in what is designed to feel like a living world.

In its demo state, the experience lasts around seven minutes and presents the viewer with a number of selected paintings and three fully immersive virtual reinterpretations of the paintings.

Step into a virtual world of Zdzislaw Beksinski's paintings.

Speaking to Poland’s Culture, 11th Dimension founder Jakub Ruszala says an essential part of the project’s development was determining the limits of the work’s interpretation. “During this process, it was vital to fill out the original paintings’ unseen spaces, those that surround the viewer.”

Much of the meaning behind Beksinski’s work was left to the viewer. “The artist himself didn’t name his works, nor throw any light on their meanings. While we worked on the project, I tried to leave viewers with that same sense of the unsaid and room for their own subjective interpretation, just like Zdzisław Beksiński did,” adds Ruszala.

The prototype was tested on over 450 people at the  “Beksinski unknown to us” exhibition, which took place in the Centrum Sztuki Moscice in Tarnow. The studio’s aim is to develop a virtual museum.

Watch the preview here: