Van Gogh’s 1888 Painting, “The Night Cafe,” Animated with Oculus Virtual Reality Software

Vin­cent van Gogh’s 1888 paint­ing, “The Night Cafe,” now hangs at the Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Art Gallery, accom­pa­nied by this descrip­tion:

In a let­ter to his broth­er writ­ten from Arles in the south of France, van Gogh described the Café de l’Al­cazar, where he took his meals, as “blood red and dull yel­low with a green bil­liard table in the cen­ter, four lemon yel­low lamps with an orange and green glow. Every­where there is a clash and con­trast of the most dis­parate reds and greens.” The clash­ing col­ors were also meant to express the “ter­ri­ble pas­sions of human­i­ty” found in this all-night haunt, pop­u­lat­ed by vagrants and pros­ti­tutes. Van Gogh also felt that col­ors took on an intrigu­ing qual­i­ty at night, espe­cial­ly by gaslight: in this paint­ing, he want­ed to show how “the white cloth­ing of the café own­er, keep­ing watch in a cor­ner of this fur­nace, becomes lemon yel­low, pale and lumi­nous green.”

The can­vas, though dry and most­ly flat, does a per­fect­ly good job of cap­tur­ing the life force that ran through that 19th cen­tu­ry French café. That’s an under­state­ment, of course. But I sup­pose there’s no harm in ani­mat­ing the already ani­mat­ed scene with some new-fan­gled tech­nol­o­gy. Above, you can see Mac Cauley’s “immer­sive vir­tu­al real­i­ty” trib­ute to Van Gogh, which he cre­at­ed for Ocu­lus’ Mobile VR Jam 2015. On a page ded­i­cat­ed to the project, Cauley writes:

My main goal with this project was to see what kinds of styl­ized 3D ren­der­ing could be expe­ri­enced through VR. I have always been drawn to the paint­ings of Van Gogh and I imag­ined it would be amaz­ing to be inside one of these col­or­ful worlds. While the GearVR offered cer­tain chal­lenges with its tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions com­pared with a PC, it forced me to pri­or­i­tize and real­ly define what makes a Van Gogh paint­ing unique.

While cre­at­ing the envi­ron­ments of these paint­ings in 3D space I’ve had to expand on areas that can’t be seen; rooms behind doors, objects hid­den from view, peo­ple turned away from the view­er. It’s been an inter­est­ing process in using ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al from Van Gogh and oth­er expres­sion­ist painters but also imag­in­ing what might have been there, just off the edges of the can­vas.

The win­ners of the Ocu­lus Mobile VR Jam will be announced in June. More cre­ative takes on famous paint­ings can be found below.

via Coudal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A 3D Tour of Picasso’s Guer­ni­ca

Edvard Munch’s Famous Paint­ingThe Scream Ani­mat­ed to the Sound of Pink Floyd’s Pri­mal Music

Dripped: An Ani­mat­ed Trib­ute to Jack­son Pollock’s Sig­na­ture Paint­ing Tech­nique

Late Rem­brandts Come to Life: Watch Ani­ma­tions of Paint­ings Now on Dis­play at the Rijksmu­se­um

Van Gogh’s ‘Star­ry Night’ Re-Cre­at­ed by Astronomer with 100 Hub­ble Space Tele­scope Images

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  • JSintheStates says:

    A beau­ti­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tion, but… what hap­pened to all of the peo­ple in the café? They left for the night? And then, Van Gogh is insert­ed? !!!

    This would have been a fan­tas­tic piece had the pro­gram­mer actu­al­ly fol­lowed the paint­ing, and includ­ed the sub­jects of the painting—the inhab­i­tants of the night café.

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