Exploring Fort Worth using virtual reality.

Finding Kahn, Piano, Ando, and Johnson in Fort Worth

If you find yourself in Dallas, do yourself a favor and carve out (at least) an afternoon to pay homage to four  (emoji language for “magical”) architects in Fort Worth: Louis (Lou) Kahn and Renzo Piano at the Kimbell Art Museum; the self-taught Tadao Ando at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and Philip Johnson at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

A week after my Fort Worth visit, I was disappointed to learn that I could have walked on the roof of Renzo’s addition to Kimbell.  [Face palm.]  And, had I walked another block up Camp Bowie Boulevard (just beyond the abandoned  sign for Joy’s Floral Company), I would have been greeted by the museum Philip designed for Amon.  [Loud sigh.]

Finding Wes (Anderson) in Grand Prairie

But instead of reading up on Lou, Phil, Renzo, and Tadao’s monuments in Fort Worth, most of my pre-trip planning efforts were spent screenshotting scenes from the movie Bottle Rocket.  Naturally, I was trying to set myself up for success in locating both the barber shop and pinball place in Grand Prairie.  [Note. I was successful with the first, not the second. But I have since figured out where the pinball place is.]

Enter Virtual Reality

Previously, if I had forgotten to go somewhere on a trip (or ran out of time, or found out about a must-visit-place after I had already visited, etc.), my default would have been to explore, post-trip, by using a combination of Google street and satellite views.  But last night I remembered the unboxed Google virtual reality (VR) headset (Daydream View) sitting in the closet.

Flash back to last February when I impulsively ordered a headset upon return from an inspiring visit to my alma mater.  On that trip, I experienced VR for the second time in my life and got to walk on Mars just like the NASA scientists do when planning for future Rover landing spots.  [My first experience was on cardboard and underwhelming.  I was inside my brother’s house looking at the outside of my house using Street View.  Does that even count?]

Back to last night.  I unboxed the goggles, quickly set them up (by learning how to play fetch with the Arctic fox in a museum exhibit), and got to see what I missed last week in Fort Worth. My first stop was the Amon Carter.  I then head out along Camp Bowie Boulevard and West Lancaster Avenue so I could see the green roof of Renzo’s 2013 addition to the Kimbell that I should have walked across.  When I was finished exploring in Fort Worth, I decided on a whim to take two unrelated side trips: one to Iran (Persepolis!) and one to Sarajevo. Because, why not?  #amirite

Donald Judd on the difference between Art and architecture

Now, rewind for a second to the conversation on architecture in Fort Worth.  Artist Donald Judd had strong views that architecture is definitely not Art (Judd explains his view in this video, starting around minute 14).  But Founding Director of the Kimbell, Richard Fargo Brown, stated that the building for the Kimbell Museum would, in itself, be a work of art, “a creative contribution to the history of architecture”.


Virtual Reality facilitating travel

The same way that architecture can help facilitate one’s experience of Art (even Judd agrees! starting around minute 4), VR can facilitate travel. While I’d love to get back to walk on the roof of Renzo’s addition, walk inside the Amon Carter, and check out the other Johnson (the Water Garden), I’m not sure when life will take me back to Fort Worth.  For now, I’ve visually connected (thanks to Virtual) with where the Amon Carter is in relation to the Kimbell, and where the barber shop is in relation to the former location of pinball machine.  So (at least for now), my curiosity has been tempered thanks to VR.  And I hope yours has been piqued.

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