What we brought back from an international exhibition

What we brought back from an international exhibition

A tutor is pioneering the use of virtual reality to curate art after successfully exhibiting his work at Les Recontres d’Arles international photography festival in France.

Mike McGinley, who teaches 3D Modelling, Photography and Media, combined his skills to create a virtual walk-through of the three galleries within the historic buildings of Arles in order to curate the exhibition along with fellow exhibitors and former Trafford College lecturers, Marc Provins and Mike Stephens.

Not only did virtually simulating the space prove time-efficient, but it also helped establishing good relationships between the photographs in the available gallery space.

Mike, who has been teaching for 20 years, said: “It is important to learn the relationship between images, just like understanding how colours put together work differently in different contexts. When people walk into a space how will they see your work?

“By using virtual reality, students can build the rooms and learn how to create their own shows and direct a product, thereby offering lots of room for experimentation.”

Mike built the virtual simulation using our HTC Vive virtual reality set – technology which is already available to learners on the wide range of art and design courses that run in our £3.5 million Creative Art building.

“Another take-away I’m bringing back to teaching at Trafford College is the exposure I had to new cutting edge artists who are shaping the photography world right now. Sometimes provincialism and culture creates barriers, but this exhibition served as a reminder that ‘it is possible’ and ‘why don’t we do these things?'".

Mike’s exhibition, titled ‘Functional Ecology’, consisted of a series of black and white prints taken using a 1960s cloak-and-hood field camera alongside old analogue technology. The photographs document the arrival of communications systems within different landscapes.

“It was received very well and reminded us all of the importance of the organisation skills we need to exhibit, such as the publishing skills for the exhibition magazine, getting together publicity in French and the necessary grit that makes it all work together.”

Previous exhibitors at Les Recontres d’Arles, where Mike displayed his prints, include stars of the photography industry: Brassai, Andre Kertesz, Ansel Adams, Martin Parr and Nan Goldin.

Congratulations Mike on a job well done!