On the Future of XR Art – MWI Talks with Bego Santiago

Bego M. Santiago/ /

Midwest Immersive always aims to gain an understanding of how we can see differently in order to alter our future and examine our accomplishments in invention and innovation thus far. We had the pleasure to work with Bego Santiago to gain a new perspective on XR from an artist’s point-of-view. Bego’s work includes light, sculpture, and various other production techniques to blur the lines between our experience VS our truth. What is real, and what dreams can we turn into a future reality?

  1. You play with lighting design in your installations. How do you come up with these ideas and what challenges do you face when executing them?

When I make art, for me, it is an internal spiritual process about self-knowledge and situational awareness. This spiritual process also encompasses new scientific and artistic knowledge research. In some cases, this process can take several years.

The concept and visual part can be more quickly defined, but the technical can be slower because it usually involves materials research, software learning, hardware creation, stage design, etc.

When the projects are ready to be shown in public, the main challenges come at the artwork set-up, because the artwork enters into dialogue with the exhibition space. In most cases, space has to adapt and transform to the artwork and not the other way around in order to achieve the best possible result. Many exhibitors do not follow the technical rider and settle for a poor presentation. But the works can still reach greater potential if their relationship with space is taken into account.

  1. Your bio says you “explore the feedback between reality and representation”. How do you explore that theme in a digital space?

In some cases, my work can be describe as “Reality–virtuality continuum” a concept introduced by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishin in 1994. The “reality–virtuality continuum” therefore encompasses all possible variations and compositions of real and virtual objects. It has been described as a concept in new media and computer science, but in fact it could be considered a matter of anthropology (another important topic in my art production). Therefore, my installations can be define as “mixed reality”, this area between the two extremes, where both the real and the virtual are mixed. Light is for me the perfect tool for the generation of simulation and optical illusions, enabling me to give life to inanimate objects, blurring the boundaries between reality and representation, presence and absence. So, to control light, I normally use digital tools, that help to create atmospheres over objects or environments.

Jasmine Guffond talk about my work as follows:

“In expanding the canvas, that is, blurring the boundaries that define a work from its surrounding environment, it becomes clear that an art work is not a complete, whole entity, but the result of relationships between the work, objects, light, audience, situation, space and time. (…) Bego M Santigo’s examples of video projection mapping, visual art forms have a history of drawing our attention to inanimate objects and their emanating atmospheres. (…) In a similar way to the ‘play of light and shadow on things’ video mapping, through its use of technology, has an ever-increasing ability to shape our perception of materiality. Atmospheres are produced and received in a very tangible way. Perception, mediated by the development of technology, is potentially altered, reshaped and expanded. This echoes ideas from Bohme’s essay on Beauty which outlines a European history of aesthetics beginning with Plato and continuing through to the present day, where he acknowledges the influence of technology on perception.”

“MAPPING AESTHETICS – Video Mapping in Relation to Gernot Bohmes theory of Atmospheres and a New Aesthetics.”. Jasmine Guffond – 1.9.2013 – Berlin

  1. Interactivity is an important element in both physical and digital art. How do you make your art immersive and engaging?

As I said before, the most important thing is to generate an atmosphere, through the relationships between objects, light, public, situation, space. I also tend to resort to illusionism and the relationship between magic and science, to confront the spectator with his sensory limits, and put him in a position to question what is real and what is artificial. My goal is to bring the spectator to the dream field and to come into contact with his subconscious through the playful.

  1. Artists are creating art in Virtual Reality with applications like Tilt Brush. How do you think that these apps are changing the field of art?

If we see a technical tool like Tilt Brush, from the point of McLuhan’s maxim “The medium is the message”, we will understand that the power of this tool is its a unique fusion between painting and sculpture, and in the creative experience of working in a total virtual environment.

The interesting part, from my point of view, will be the possibility of 3D print Tilt Brush creations. This combination can offer something revolutionary to those creative processes with a 3d design start point.

  1. Do you think digital art is the future?

Since the 1970s, various names have been used to describe this process, including computer art, multimedia art and so on. So, for me, digital art is contemporary art. The art of my present. But Artistic currents are ephemeral; novelty acquires power over art, and there is a tingle of being constantly new, always devising different ways of doing and thinking.

What prevails in art throughout history is its relationship with philosophy. There are no limits to the artistic, and thought has allowed it to be so. I believe that the future of art is in its holistic capacity as a way of research and thought and also in its scientific and technological capacity. But also, in its ability to transmit knowledge through emotion.


            The future of technology and the arts is intertwined, much like science and philosophy or mathematics and painting can be. All are humanity’s endeavors to create a world that is more beautiful and kinder than the one we entered with. Whatever the future holds, we need to remember that we can make dreams into reality. We have only to create it.