The man behind the iconic "Hope" poster during Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, Shepard Fairey, is a contemporary street artist, graphic designer, activist, illustrator and founder of OBEY Clothing. He had emerged from the skateboarding scene, and threads his gritty roots throughout his projects. The next big project, being the marriage of art and technology.
Fairey first became known for his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" OBEY sticker campaign. Fairey explained the The OBEY sticker campaign to be an experiment in phenomenology. “The first aim of phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment,” Shepard said.
Shepard, along with Los Angeles-based immersive technology company, VRt Ventures, has found a new way to reawaken the wonder in one's environment.
Through the VRt Team, Fairey's largest exhibit, "Damaged," launches as a VR/AR experience. A pop-up exhibition will also be open from 10/17 - 10/21 at 136 Bowery in New York City from 10am - 6pm.
"Damaged" originally opened Nov. 11 of last year, at a warehouse in downtown L.A. The 2017 exhibition lived on for a little over a month, but with the VR experience and mobile app availability, it is now open to the public on a global scale. You can download the experience from 5 major platforms, including Oculus, Samsung Gear and Steam in VR, Google Play for Androids, as well as on the iOS App store for Apple mobile devices.
"Damaged" addresses the pressing social and political issues through paintings, collages, sculptures and installations. The “Damaged” exhibit also included various "DIY tools of empowerment," such as graffiti stencils and a running printing press.
While the showcase was created under the Trump-administration era, Fairey says that it is not an anti-Trump show. “This is a show about issues that I've cared about for years that are even more critical under [the time of] Trump," Fairey said.
Fairey is helping VRt Venture's vision forward: To turn every museum, gallery, and art exhibition into a virtual reality experience through their mobile app. Jacob Koo, CEO and Founder of VRt Ventures, said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Shepard Fairey on this project as his visionary thinking is so aligned with ours... to preserve and archive amazing exhibits, democratizing art and making it available for people all over the world to experience.”
For Fairey, one of the exhibition's primary goals is to combat the “creeping urge to retreat from the outside world and into our respective Instagram feeds.”
He explained that, "Apathy is a really big problem and choosing sides via social media is not enough."
At Fairey and VRt's private event the night before the pop-up at Bowery opened up to the public, DJ Stretch Armstrong kicked off the exhibit. Shepard announced: “This is about loving something simple. It’s about loving art. This is the future and this is just the first step in the wave of democratizing art. This is where I do believe in trickle-down.”
Roars of whistles and claps followed.
View the Trailer and Demo below: