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Dressing Venus ─ a painted figure that has been nude for 100 years
An all-new form of live painting incorporating VR, AR and AI

Fusing technology with classic art allows us to make paintings come alive

Art Fair Tokyo is held in March every year as Japan’s largest international art trade show. We were commissioned to produce a live performance at its opening party.
The theme of this year’s fair was “Art is alive: getting closer to art, art is getting closer.” With that in mind, our team discussed how to make people more interested in art. Those discussions led to the observation that classic paintings often depict nude women, who are always just standing there naked every time we go see them. Therefore, we thought it would be fun to put clothes on a nude woman in a painting through the use of technology. That reminded us of an old Japanese tale of a boy named Ikkyu, who asked for a tiger painted on a folding screen to come out so he could catch it. Now we can make paintings come alive in the way he wished.
Our concept was to dress Venus, a figure that has been nude for over 100 years in the painting, The Birth of Venus. It was a crazy idea, but we went ahead with the project, which turned out to be quite formidable as we came up against one obstacle after another.

We realized that we were making use of all of today’s technological trends─VR, AR, and AI

Essentially, our concept involved creating haute couture for the figure of Venus. In order to design a dress that would perfectly fit her body lines and shape, and then reflect that image back onto the painting, we thought it would be best to directly paint the dress onto a 3D model of Venus using virtual reality (VR) painting tools. By just having one artist create the VR content, we could allow the audience to enjoy watching the painting performed live. It was also essential for the dress to match the style of the painting. As we tried doing all of those things, we realized that we were incorporating all of the latest technological trends.

Dressing Venus

The original painting (left) and the version with the dress superimposed on Venus

Overcoming challenges until an impressive performance on the day of the event

We commissioned fashion designer Junko Koshino to design the dress, and paint it live in a VR space in front of an audience that would include many leading people in the art world. With Venus as her “super model,” Junko Koshino had just one chance to nail the performance at the event. She finished the performance in about 10 minutes, which seemed to go by in a flash. Right after that, the dress was projected on a model of Venus in a new display case inside the venue using a three-dimensional projection technique called Pepper’s ghost. The impressive image could be seen from every angle surrounding the model, and the sound of smart phone cameras from the audience was non-stop for quite some time. Finally, the dress appeared on The Birth of Venus, tailored to match the tone of the painting through a filter we produced using artificial intelligence (AI) that learned William Bouguereau’s style of painting.

Everyone’s enthusiasm and craftsmanship were even more important than the technology

We faced many big hurdles leading up to the performance day, such as getting approval from the Musée d’ Orsay (which owns the original painting), making the 3D model of Venus and verifying the image of the dress projected on the model. Nevertheless, everyone in our team helped each other out every time we faced a hurdle, so somehow we managed to get through it. Throughout the project, the technological aspects posed huge challenges, but the most important things for overcoming the hurdles were the enthusiasm and craftsmanship of the project members. It was a really enjoyable project, and we learned a lot from it.

Dressing Venus

The dress being projected in 3D onto the model Of Venus

Dressing Venus

The production staff (from left): Shimpei Murata, Takato Akiyama, Kazuyoshi Ochi, Kenji Ozaki, Ryoya Sugano and Naomi Okamura


Dressing Venus

Kazuyoshi Ochi

Creative Director / Communication Planner
CDC Dentsu Inc. / Dentsu Lab Tokyo

Dressing Venus

Shimpei Murata

Copywriter / Communication Planner
Marketing & Creative Center
Dentsu kansai

Dressing Venus

Takato Akiyama

Planner
Media Services / Radio, TV Division
Dentsu Inc.

Dressing Venus

Kenji Ozaki

Planner
Creative Department 1, Creative Division,
Dentsu Live Inc. / Dentsu VR Plus Dentsu Inc.

Dressing Venus

Ryoya Sugano

Creative Technologist
CDC Dentsu Inc. / Dentsu Lab Tokyo

Dressing Venus

Naomi Okamura

Art Director
CDC Dentsu Inc. / Dentsu Lab Tokyo

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