Kenyan Artists Taking Up Virtual Reality

Kenyan-based Extended Reality production agency Black Rhino and Goethe-Institut held the third installation of the State of the ARt (SOTA) exhibition titled DARUBINI (telescope), which aims to fuse art and technology. 

Darubini had six visual artists in this year’s cohort who had to showcase how technology can enable us to take a reflective look at different aspects of our lives. SOTA was a major hit throughout the month attracting various audiences checking out.  It was held at the OUT Reality, XR Lab and Exhibition Space at The Mall, Westlands and included workshops and training. 

The event seeks to inspire a wide-scale adoption of Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies in many sectors of the economy in order to capitalize on the massive, immersive and eye-opening opportunities they offer. 

Through this project, we have equipped young creatives with skills to enter their individual XR (eXtended Reality) journey and extend their creative freedom and expression without boundaries in the virtual world,” said Maria Bauer, the Project Coordinator of Goethe’s JENGA CCI

 SOTA 3.0 Artists

1.Adam Yawe is a 3D artist and Product Designer. He runs a skateboarding-inspired fashion brand called Zamani Skateboards and is passionate about exploring the material culture. Project- Jua ni Kali Jua ni Kali is a VR animated Short film exploring Kenya’s Jua Kali culture and its connection to skateboarding. Adam’s Instagram

2. Lezzie who is a traditional painter, graphic designer, and 3D artists explored using art to get you out of the dark. Her project “The Queen is Dead” transports viewers into a series of different stages of grief. Lezzie’s Instagram.

3. Husna Ismail is a multifaceted artist that has worked with both traditional and digital media. Her experience titled “Growth” was a body of work inspired by personal experiences and those around her on the constant and conscious growth that happens in everyone’s journey of life. Husna’s Instagram

4. Visual Artist and Architectural Designer Angela Cauri is intentional about visually addressing social and cultural issues affecting the human condition- through creativity and technology. Her project encourages a non-linear, multi-dimensional form of thinking in Architectural representation – which is already commonplace in storytelling. She named it “A Personal Odyssey [Of Thyself]”. Angela’s Instagram

5.Gavin Kendo is a visual artist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is his own muse and tries to portray his own mental state and emotions through a psychedelic lens, by using colour and composition to add to his storytelling. Cotton Candy Dreams is a juxtaposition of the artist’s daily interaction with the Kenyan environment and the universe of information that exists within each one of us. Gavin’s Instagram .

John Maronga is a freelance self-taught 2D illustrator. Maronga’s exhibit ‘Euphoria’ takes the viewer on a musical journey. The story is of a young pastoralist boy seated under a tree taking shade from the scorching sun and how through music he’s able to transverse to a different world. John’s Instagram

VR and AR Technologies More than Gaming and Entertainment

Wide-scale adoption of VR And AR can revolutionize how many industries are run and provide one of the plausible solutions to address some of the multifaceted challenges faced in society. There’s a need to ensure that both the software and hardware equipment are accessible. Currently, the cost of acquiring VR/AR technologies is prohibitive making it difficult to scale them. For example, a VR headset costs upwards of Ksh50,000 which makes it out of reach for many people. 

“We are urging the government, policymakers, and private stakeholders to support knowledge transfer of immersive technology as well as accessibility to infrastructure (hardware & software) that will catapult Extended Reality exploration and innovation,” said Ms Rajab of Black Rhino. This would have the multiplier effect of creating both direct and indirect jobs through empowering techpreneurs who can deliver market-oriented solutions to African challenges. 

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