Hieronymus Bosch in virtual reality is the strangest thing you’ll see today
The proto-surrealist work of late medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch tends to be spoken about in the same breath as dreams, orgies, damnation, organs, God and nightmares. His most famous painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights, is an intricate, flesh-coloured triptych covering everything from the Garden of Eden to hell.
Now, you can explore Bosch’s Garden on the back of a flying fish thanks to Bosch VR, an app developed by BAFTA-winning studio Burrell Durrant Hifle for iPhone and Android. You’ll need a Google Cardboard headset to get the full experience, although the clip below gives you a feel for the app’s animations.
Exploring art through VR seems to be a bit in-vogue at the moment. The Dalí Museum in Florida recently created a VR version of Dalí’s Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus” as part of its Dreams of Dalí exhibition, while Belgian studio Tale of Tales are currently developing a VR cathedral of art.
As far as Bosch goes, the medium lends itself well to exploring the elaborate scenes of his painting. There’s so much going on Garden that viewing it in its original form becomes a comparable act of floating from character to character, immersed in one strange copulation after another. Spend a few minutes looking at the full painting and you’ll be drawn into a multiplicity of details. VR, therefore, seems to fit
While the emphasis is very much on spectacle, bringing a new perspective to centuries-old paintings is by no means a bad thing. I’d personally quite like to see a similar trip played with Pieter Bruegel the Elder, or perhaps Giogio de Chirico.
The first panel of the triptych comes free when you download the app, but the other two need to be purchased as a bundle costing £2.99.