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Artists tap into technology

Written by Sphelele Ngubane

Technology is changing the way artists interact with their audience. 

Four youth from Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal hosted the inaugural Virtual Reality Arts Festival to expose local artists to the new technology they can use to showcase their work.Local artists and members of the public enjoy art through virtual reality.

Funded by the National Arts Council (NAC), through the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, the festival aimed to create employment initiatives for artists, creatives and workers in the heritage and cultural sectors.

Project manager Palesa Dlamini says the festival targets artists in small towns and rural areas, to introduce them to new technologies that can help them reach a wider audience.

While the festival started in Newcastle, other festivals will take place, particularly in rural areas.

“The exhibition explored a new virtual medium of showcasing art. Art creatives from Newcastle and surrounding areas presented their art through virtual reality goggles that the public had to wear,” says Dlamini.

Virtual reality goggles enable the wearer to view a series of computer-generated images that they can interact with.

“We also spoke to artists about how they can use technology like this to reach a global audience, as opposed to being limited to a traditional audience in physical galleries,” says Dlamini.

Simphiwe Qwabe, who planned the festival, says technology is changing quickly and those who choose to use it must constantly develop themselves through short courses.

Local artist Nomfundo Mkhize, who participated in exhibition, appreciated the opportunity.

“I feel seen and heard as an emerging artist. Exposure for me will always be something I treasure and not take for granted. More people seeing my work meant that I am doing something right and I am thankful,” she says.

Dlamini says after Newcastle, the festival will move to other parts of the Amajuba District and partner with local museums and galleries.

The festival also presents an opportunity to learn about history. “Most young people do not know about places that exhibit art and the rich information they have about the history of towns. It’s a good idea to work with them to bring art to the people,” she says. 

For information about NAC funding opportunities, visit: www.nac.org.za