Vive as Art: How a Seattle artist brought prototype Vive units back to life

As you walk into our Pioneer Square office in Seattle, you’re greeted by a massive art installation that showcases Vive’s past. Created by local artist, Gabriele Phillips of glp art, the piece was inspired by the re-use of technology for art and is built out of broken pre-production Vive units, base stations and controllers.


We caught up with Gabriele about how the piece came to fruition and on her art style and philosophy.


Tell me about your background. What inspired the Vive project?

I’ve always had an artsy vein in me but initially it was limited to drawings and paintings. I started to expand my work to the use of recycled materials for Burning Man in 2015. I always liked creating things without buying or consuming new products.

My first re-use project was decorating a bike for Burning Man using only plastic bottles. I covered the entire bike frame with individually cut-out and spray-painted plastic pieces to turn it into a “Golden Dragon”. The head was made out of plastic bottles, mash wire, wood sticks and a few hardware pieces I found. For the following year, I started building a piece using only old tin cans… I wondered how you could make something big and beautiful with such a common and often discarded thing such as a can. Once I figured out how to attach them together with a spot welder, the sky was the limit.

How many hours did this project take?

From design to shaping the Vive logo to placing each of the individual components – I’d say 70 hours top to bottom.

How much planning goes into a piece like this?

As soon as I heard about the project, I was flooded with ideas. I drew out some specs taking into consideration that it had to be moveable and went from there. The plans were drawn up over a day or two, once I started figuring out the size of the Vive components. I tend to start with an idea, which develops and evolves while I’m working on it. It depends on how the material behaves when I’m working with it.

What didn’t work? What wasn’t malleable?

The hardest part was to fit all the pieces together without creating gaps and simultaneously creating a 3D effect.  It was like a giant puzzle! The early controllers were the hardest to fit in. They are a bit of an odd shape and were the hardest to drill and screw in.

Any rough estimates on how many Vive components are in the piece?

Based on the time it took to attach all the pieces (about 60 hours), my best guess is a combined 500 pieces between headsets, base stations and controllers.

What else can you tell me about the project? What was your inspiration? 

What’s important for me is that it’s a recyclable and environmentally friendly project. None of the units were functional, so that’s why I wanted to use them to make the art piece instead of throwing them away.




You can read more about Gabriele’s art on her Facebook page