Canvas Art Collective Prepares for Their Biggest 'Sub Chroma' Virtual Reality Experience to Date

Written by Jake Krez / Ray Mestad

Canvas will be holding their 4th installment of Sub Chroma, an augmented reality, art and music showcase. Essentially, artists will be using a VR headset to digitally paint the space using projection mapping. The installation will feature work for street artist Lefty Out There, DRMBT and Preston Jones, as well as multiple local musicians, spread across three different rooms featuring various installations. This is all very exciting, but as a music publication, one aspect piqued my interest the most.

Besides fantastic  acts such as Bengfang, Jim-E Stack, and more, there’s something absolutely killer in store for music addicts….Chicago House treasure, Derrick Carter. A true OG, Derrick Carter is a Chicago House DJ who’s been making people dance for longer than most of you have been alive. Let’s be honest, if you know, you know, and if you don’t know? Derrick Carter is what you can actually call a living legend. While there isn’t much in common with him and the big stage monstrosities you’ll see muddying the summer festival circuit, Derrick Carter and other Chicago DJ’s did it first. Period. If you need a drop, stay at home. If you want to move to a maelstrom of beats, soul and music, you know exactly where you need to be. 

So, obviously very hyped about this Derrick Carter appearance. But there’s so much more to Subchroma, and without spoiling too much of what the event will be, Canvas's Preston Jones goes into it with These Days Editor Jake Krez, below. 

Let’s talk about 2016 Subchroma, I know this one is distinctly more involved than before, something a long time coming.

It’s really been an all year thing and really evolved, kind of at the same pace of and because of the organization itself. At some point early this year I saw Subchroma as a really important production to focus on and evolve with because I knew if we executed we could do interesting things and establish ourselves as a new but important voice in the cultural scene in Chicago, doing serious work that is changing the way things can be done in the future, not just in the art side of things but commerce, implementing these ideas into business in interesting ways. So what’s it been like? Evolving….The organization it would take to pull off sub chroma would be the organization I want to have for the future, to be a more sustainable organization. Think Jr high to high school, high school to college, college to first job.

Has it been a challenge to have new ideas come about so often since technology is progressing so quickly?

What I’ve noticed is that we’re not technologists, not programmers, but it’s the way we’re applying the technologies, in unique, not seen before ways, and that’s where the creativity comes. If we position ourselves correctly, we can position ourselves creatively, but also hey, “if they’re capable of doing that with technology, hey guys, we have a new technology, we’d love for you to come up with some ideas for how to apply it”. That’s what I’m seeing, the sustainability I’m looking for, applying the technology rather than developing it.

Is that a big driving force, opening people’s minds to possibilities or what might be possible?

We’ll all give different answers, for Vincent it’s very much about introducing VR and Digital arts in a respectful ways, understanding that this is art and not just some video game stuff, bridging that gap. I think he wants to put a stamp on and lay the frame work for how to treat digital art and express it. For me, I really believe that if you can pull off unusual ideas in new and innovative ways, most importantly effective ways, it can be very inspiring. What I mean by that is when people experience something like Subchroma and have it touch a part of their soul, as far as similar ideas in terms of progressive, interesting, unique and expressive ideas, it makes them believe it is possible. If they are experiencing, it won’t just be “hey this is a cool tech event”, if they are really being moved by it then it proves to them that “it’s” possible. It’s not just that experience, but you take an experience like that and combine it with a conversation you have with a friend or colleague a month late, eventually that leads to somebody awakening on their own. To be a part of that process is what I’m most interested in. When you’re doing new things, you already have a layer of doors open with people because they haven’t predetermined what it should be.

You’re two days out from the show, how are you feeling? What are you looking most forward to?

I feel really good, a lot of things have lined up to this point. I feel like it’s just about executing, laying down the final pieces of the track we’ve put in place, staying under control, maintaining focus on that core experience for people. I can tell that we’re there. We’ve been doing this for 4 years, but this is the deepest we’ve gone and I can feel that. We’re on that final stretch to deliver this experience that people are…primed….for. Not that everyone is sitting around thinking about Subchroma, but we’ve been working towards this for 4 years and I can FEEL that. We’re trying to get the organization to the next level, and in doing so, hopefully graduate a bunch of people in the community to the next level. Beyond that, the big thing with Canvas for me is just really proving that something is possible. Talking creative things, then to prove to each other time in and time out that these ideas are possible on a deeper, more intense level, is really exciting for me and I feel really good, better than I usually feel this close to an event. The second part of that answer is, I usually go way too intense and make myself sick, focusing so hard on making the experience that I don’t participate. At the start of this week I said I’ll get sleep, spend time with my girlfriend, not overstress about little things and let them happen. It’s been great, and I’m enjoying this level of intensity and stress. There’s a lot to do in the next two days, but I’m feeling good.

That’s awesome man, I’m happy for you.

I can feel it, I can feel people wanting this to be good. The people involved, the supporters who want it to be good, you can feel that readiness. It’s really cool.