Evolving traditional art forms through mixed reality

Transformation Mask is an experiential sculpture in the form of a raven mask that draws on indigenous art and mixed reality technology to immerse viewers in a metamorphosis.

How can technology change the way we experience art? More specifically, how can it take traditional art forms—like indigenous carvings—and evolve them into something new?

Heiltsuk artist Shawn Hunt explored these questions in his work Transformation Mask, which takes the concept of a traditional raven totem carving and reimagines it as a cyborg. Working within The Garage at Microsoft Vancouver, he collaborated with a team of artists, designers, and engineers to create the interactive installation. The work incorporates Microsoft HoloLens, electronics, mechanical engineering, and 3D printing.

When viewers put on the mask, in the form of a giant raven’s head, it physically transforms before immersing them in a holographic display of Hunt’s art.

Art comes in many forms, can easily transcend cultures and utilize technology to become something new. Life is all about these infinite possibilities and combinations.

- Andy Klein, a HoloLens Mixed Reality Designer who worked on Transformation Mask
Person looking inside the Transformation Mask while opened
Front view of the Transformation Mask while open

The team’s hope is to challenge the way we think about the term “indigenous” and push people to view traditional art forms as still constantly evolving, particularly through technology.

Learn more about the making of the Transformation Mask, which was unveiled at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2017.