Rachel Rossin Turned a Fake Identity Into Virtual Reality

Rachel Rossin Turned a Fake Identity Into Virtual Reality

As featured in V112, the burgeoning artist is fluent in the art of sculpture and painting—and computer programming.

As featured in V112, the burgeoning artist is fluent in the art of sculpture and painting—and computer programming.

Text: Alexandra Pechman

This article appears in the pages of V112, on newsstands now. Order your copy now at vmagazineshop.com.

When Rachel Rossin first moved to New York, she assumed a fake identity—of sorts. The artist, who first began coding as a kid before developing an interest in art, adopted a male pseudonym to apply for freelance computer programming work, and found she got more jobs that way. The experience inspired her 2017 virtual-reality (VR) work Man Mask, “a guided meditation through landscapes taken from the game Call of Duty: Black Ops, drained of violence and transformed into an ethereal dream world,” according to an artist’s statement. Rhizome and the New Museum commissioned the piece last year for the exhibit “First Look: Artists’ VR,” released via free mobile app. Rossin’s fluency in painting and sculpture, combined with very real programming chops, have put her at the forefront of the burgeoning VR art scene. Her paintings and VR pieces deliberately inform one another; some of her virtual work uses aspects of her paintings, and vice versa.

As Rossin puts it, “We think about [technology] as this ‘other,’ but it has so much to do with our selves, with our desk drive.”  Rossin is concerned with the line between the virtual world and our own, and the ephemerality of both. Her work has appeared in “ARS17” at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, “After Us” at the K11 Art Foundation in Shanghai, and “The Unframed World” at the House of Electronic Arts Basel, all shows dealing with digital revolution. She describes her new sculptures as “pieces I’ve wanted to make for years,” adding, “I have drawings of them from when I was 17.” In her recent works, she UV-prints images from her VR work onto a clear, acrylic substrate, then melts these screens with a blowtorch and shapes them around her body.

“I’m using my body to literally print onto them in the same way that a painting is an immediate response,” Rossin says. This year, Rossin will be featured in a National Geographic mini-doc series, a group show at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, and solo shows at the Akron Museum of Art and the Zabludowicz Collection in London. She’s also moving into a massive new studio space in Dumbo—where of course, she’s building all the new servers herself.

Mirror Milk, Oil on canvas, 60 x 72 inches, Courtesy the artist
Credits: Portrait by Max Hirschberger

UP NEXT

Exclusive: ALEXACHUNG Presents Film for the Virginia Collection