Objects in the Age of Virtual Reproduction: Aura and the Elusive Third Axis




Project Description

This project contributes to the body of scholarship on Walter Benjamin, his ideas about aesthetics and the political implications of technologically mediated art. It disambiguates the concept of aura, by connecting aura’s prerequisite of physical presence, to the perceptual presence offered by Virtual Reality (VR). It also explores Benjamin’s ideas around aura and authenticity, through the reproduction of toys and sculptures, exhibited in both physical and virtual space. The thesis takes a Research-Creation approach, using art making as methods to navigate theory and vice versa. Specific technologies include VR, 3D printing and scanning, CNC, and photogrammetry. Outputs include two large (physical) lion sculptures, a VR exhibition featuring the same lion models (digital) and a vending machine providing inexpensive artist multiples. Findings highlight the unique affordances of positional tracking in VR, and emphasize the potential of art as a vehicle for ideas, instead of as a trophy/market commodity.


Thoreau Bakker is an artist and researcher at OCAD University. Currently pursuing an MFA in the Digital Futures program, his focus on 3D technology bridges sculpture and VR as well as toys and artist multiples. His primary and secondary thesis advisers are Dr. Martha Lady and professor Ala Roushan, respectively.