A project involving University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has been nominated for a major international award – alongside pop culture icons such as Taylor Swift, Mr Beast, RuPaul and The Simpsons.

Virtual Van Gogh – created in conjunction with arts and heritage app Smartify on behalf of AT&T – is in the running for a Webby Award, which recognises the best of the internet.

As part of the project, the iconic Vincent Van Gogh painting Restaurant Rispal at Asnières has been transformed into a fully explorable virtual reality (VR) museum, packed with some of the artists most famous paintings from around the world.

The original artwork depicts the outside of a 19th century café in France.

Peter Satera, a lecturer in Animation and Arts at UWS, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for this high-profile award, it’s certainly not something we anticipated and it’s a huge honour. I’d like to acknowledge my colleague Dr Ray Holder, who played a key role in making this project a reality.”

Photo: The project was built entirely on the UWS Paisley campus
Photo Credit: Issued by UWS

Dr Marco Gilardi, Research Lead at the UWS Creative Computing Research Group, added “Having the opportunity to bring this much-loved painting to life has been an honour in itself; giving people the opportunity to explore its world and view artwork that they would have had to travel continents to see. It’s a little surreal to be in the running for such a prestigious award, but the entire team is delighted.”

The project has been nominated in the Best Use of Augmented Reality category; which has both a jury and public vote. It was originally developed for an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, but is now available for anyone to view online.

Thanos Kokkiniotis, Smartify CEO and Head of Product, added: “Our version of the restaurant doubles up as a museum, containing art which is on display at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, The National Gallery in London and the Austrian Gallery Belvedere.

“The response from the public had been very positive – and this nomination really is the icing on the cake. We’re delighted and humbled to be in contention for this prize.”

The virtual museum was developed through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, funded by Innovate UK, in partnership with UWS.

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By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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