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Virtual Reality Recreation of Yves Tanguy’s World

Immersive Experience | 06 2019 

Adapted from Yves Tanguy's painting, Reincarnation is a virtual reality art experience that invites the audience into a surreal symbiosis of abstract creatures. Reincarnation investigates how to transform surrealist paintings into an authentic and sensational virtual reality experience, which departs from a direct translating approach used by the current virtualization of paintings. Reincarnation intends to reproduce as well as amplify the experience of original artworks by focusing on an agent-based spatial narrative and a surreal aesthetic for visual, motion, audio, and interaction. Beyond that, Reincarnation is also an artistic exploration and expression that seeks and argues the animism in various matters and challenges the anthropocentric worldview in an artificial intelligence era. By providing experience from different perspectives, it calls for people's empathy for not only human beings but also other organic creations, artifacts, places, and abstract entities.


6-8 min VR experience

HTC Vive Pro/Oculus Rift S

10x10 sq ft room space


Project Description

Reincarnation presents an immersive and responsive virtual environment juxtaposing reproduced scenes from Yves Tanguy's selected paintings and my creation of pseudo-natural beings. The selected paintings include I await you(1934), Extinction of Useless Lights(1927), The Furniture of Time (1939), The Lovers (1929), The Earth and the air (1941), Les Saltimbanques (1954), and an unknown titled painting (1927).

Expanding Surrealism into an overall aesthetic, the virtual environment is filled with forces of animism by organic shapes, morphing and flocking movements, intimate vocal sounds, and decontextualized scenes. The world also has a microstructure that makes use of collisions in VR and interior space of models. A geometric world, with polygons as the new molecules, which resembles the micro-composition of the seemingly organic beings is hidden beneath the surface. A spatial narrative (see Figure 2) is designed as implicit guidance for an audience to explore the virtual world. Reproduced painting components along with pseudo-nature beings formulate an agent-based ecosystem where different kinds of species interact with each other and alter the appearance of the scene.


Jing Yan

Artist / 3D & sound designer / Animator / Creative coder

- a Master Project in Media Arts and Technology, UC Santa Barbara

Mengyu Chen

Technical artist


Special Thanks to

My advisors Professor Marcos Novak (MAT transLab)
Professor Tobias Höllerer
Professor Marko Peljhan
Donghao Ren 

Reincarnation Narrative Map

Reincarnation - Narrative Map

User Interactions

One audience at a time can participate in the 6-8 min experience of Reincarnation with a set of HTC Vive Pro/Oculus Rift S. The audience will put on a VR headset to immerse in the surreal environment and use a controller to navigate or walk in a 5 x 5 sq ft room space to explore and interact with the virtual environment.

During the experience, the audience will be able to fly and navigate in the world, encounter primitive life forms at different scales(entering some of the large structures), embody and interact with the creatures, and participate in an unconscious recomposition of the animist ecosystem. Through this process, Reincarnation hopes to unleash the audience from the constraint of reasons, magnify the unconscious mind, and evokes a broader empathy.


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