Living a digital dream with Alex Andreev's VR landscapes

"A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming," says Wikipedia. Artist Alex Andreev offers that experience with his VR dreamscape paintings by messing with the part of your brain that distinguishes reality from fantasy. "Never did I take creation as a product of man's intellect," he says. "Our conscious awareness is only a thin film in the ocean of unconsciousness."


His digital 360-degree VR artworks are full of fantastical imagery like floating islands and cargo freighters, dinosaurs and dystopic landscapes, all populated by people doing ordinary things like fishing or playing tennis.

The works are made possible by the digital tools at his fingertips. "It sounds paradoxical but digital art attracts me because it is free of technological influence," Andreev explains. "In traditional arts, technologies dramatically limit the artist."

It sounds paradoxical but digital art attracts me because it is free of technological influence. In traditional arts, technologies dramatically limit the artist.

A Russian who lives in France, Andreev has worked in game and film production, and uses tools like Photoshop and Blender to create his works. He adds that new 3D rendering technology has improved his creation methods: "[It] has become much friendlier for artists who want to see results immediately," he told 2D Artist magazine.

Despite the fantastical aspects of his work, Andreev uses authentic visuals to ground the user in the acid-trip landscapes. "When the viewer interacts with an image, he compares what he sees now with his past experience," Andreev said. "The more [it] relates to their experience, the greater the effect the artwork will have."

Each piece places the viewer in the center a scene with multiple stories happening at once. Andreev says he tries to pry visuals from his unconsciousness mind by revisiting childhood memories or dreams, for instance. From there, the viewer is free to fill in their own narrative or meaning for the piece, as if it was there own dream.

Working with graphic designer Mikhail Ershov, Andreev developed an app for the VR paintings called "A separate reality," on iOS and Android. Accompanied by music by Gumar Zaynullin, it gives VR headset owners the best way to view the paintings.

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