RT’s multimedia project #VictoryPages presents ‘War: Kids’ drawings in VR animation,’ a series of children’s drawings from the collection of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg interpreted by famous artists in VR.
For many decades, the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg has kept about 700 unique children’s drawings that were created during the Siege of Leningrad (September 8, 1941 – January 27, 1944). These drawings, collected by workers in kindergartens, orphanages and schools, reflect a child’s view of wartime events, exposing their feelings and ideas. Almost every drawing has an accompanying text – a short story by a child about what they drew. Educators often recorded such stories and pasted them into albums, carefully preserving them as a document of the era.
I send you this letter so that you return sooner. I cry all the time because you are away. I am crying now that I am writing to you. We don’t have Valechka anymore, she died. Mommy is making fermented cabbage, growing her vegetable garden. We will be fine now. The cabbage grew. I help my mom. Mommy misses you. Darling daddy, please return sooner with victory, but send a reply even sooner.” – excerpt from a letter by Lucy, six years old, from October 2, 1942.
The team behind #VictoryPages decided to revive these drawings using VR animation. Each episode will be devoted to a new drawing and its interpretation by modern digital artists who will create voluminous illustrations – each in their signature style.
“Virtual art and new media technologies open up almost limitless spaces for creativity. These days every large film festival features an array of films and projects created using immersive technologies. We are very pleased that such masters of XR-art as Sutu, VRHUMAN, Denis Semionov are part of our project. Technology has given us many new realities: mixed, virtual, augmented,” says author Kirill Karnovich-Valua.
Russia’s leading XR artist, Denis Semionov – known by the creative pseudonym Sa1ntdenis – also acts as the producer of this series.
“The plots of children’s drawings from besieged Leningrad are very sincere, so I could hardly imagine how to work with them in virtual reality,” says Semionov. “I looked at the whole album and selected 20 works that were suitable for virtual animation. Then I decided to ask artists from different countries to depict their vision of this topic.”
Denis was previously a director and producer of the Auschwitz Lessons VR project, currently nominated for three Webby Awards in the Video – Immersive & Mixed Reality category for Animation, News and Volumetric Video.
Another artist in the series is Stuart Campbell from Australia, known by the creative pseudonym Sutu Eats Flies. He has worked with studios and brands such as Disney, Marvel, Google, and on VR projects for films such as ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘First Player Get Ready.’
“Even though the illustrations are child-like, they capture a raw intensity, warships flying overhead, bombs exploding, a ravaged landscape. It is clear the impact of the war had a very visceral effect on the children,” Stuart Campbell says of his part in the project.
“By reconstructing the worlds of the children’s imagination, I hope to cast a new perspective of the impact of war on a child,” Campbell adds.
The project also involves an artist from Germany, Vladimir Ilych, known by the creative pseudonym VRHUMAN. He has worked with brands such as Google, Samsung, Sony Pictures, and Microsoft.
“The perspective of children is one of the closest lenses we have to see reality as it is. Seeing and interpreting a child’s drawing in VR is maybe the purest form of art we as humans can experience,” Ilych says.
Rosie Summers is the fourth participating artist, working at XR Games, which recently released Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure for PlayStation VR.
#VictoryPages was launched by RT on five social media platforms in January in honor of the upcoming 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. It is entering its final stages and will last through May 2020.