Over the last several years, artists in Reno have created many colorful murals around town. The University of Nevada, Reno is archiving that street art digitally, some of which can be experienced in virtual reality. KUNR’s Krysta Scripter stopped by a demo to check it out.
The Reno Street Art Project not only has a large digital archive, but several stations inside UNR’s Knowledge Center are set up with virtual reality headsets. Visitors can use those Oculus Rift headsets to explore a virtual map of Reno, with 150 different murals. Users can point the controller to 3D cubes that signify where the art is located. Once they choose a destination, they are transported to a 360-degree video of that mural, without taking a single step.
Kristi Green is a bookkeeper at CO Auto in Reno and has never used VR before.
“I feel like I’m actually on the street," Green says. "This is really interesting. I hear the traffic, and I can see other people, and there’s a car coming. Whoa, ok, that was really weird!”
Along with viewing several murals, Green is able to watch short vignettes featuring the artists themselves.
VR Specialist Luka Starmer says they stopped archiving in December of 2017 and some of the murals shown no longer exist.
“A lot of the murals that we captured have been painted over or the buildings have changed, and they’re no longer there," he explained. "So this application lets you stand in front of the murals as they were when we filmed them, and it feels like the exact time when we filmed. They’ll never be seen without this project.”
Michelle Rebaleati is the multimedia productions specialist at the Knowledge Center. She says this project came together through digital initiatives to find and document Reno’s street art.
“I mean, we see it all the time, when we’re driving around Reno," Rebealeati says. "But when you actually put it down, and put it in numbers--who did this? what’s it called? when was it sanctioned? was it commissioned?--having all that information is priceless.”
Rebaleati says these murals are changing Reno’s identity and stresses the importance of capturing the city’s evolving art scene now.
You can find more murals at the digital archive.