Art In America: Immersive Art: New Realities and Virtual Worlds
By William S. Smith
Published in issue: Jan/Feb 2021
The concept of layers is essential to understanding Petra Cortright's work. The intricate digital paintings she has created over the past decade take advantage of the powerful "layer" function at the heart of Photoshop. Every digital mark and brushstroke she makes using the image-editing software can be isolated and manipulated in its own slice of virtual space before being flattened and printed on canvas. But what if, instead of flattening these layers, they could be expanded in three dimensions? That question is central to her recent experiments in Virtual and Augmented Reality. Working with the VR developer Float Land, she created a fully immersive environment that explodes one of her Photoshop files, with each digital layer becoming a discrete are to explore. A separate AR project, now in development with the company An Art, offers viewers a 3D virtual landscape they can access on their mobile devices.