Patrick Obando, Advertising Design ’18

You made the self-portraits on this page using the virtual reality program Google Tilt Brush. What’s it like to explore this world?
It’s almost like you’re playing God. You’re in this massive, endless room, which is like a blank canvas, and you have all these tools. If you’re used to drawing on a flat surface, you have to train yourself to think in a 3D way. Things have depth and volume. I had an artist friend draw a rose and it was gorgeous, but when you walked around it, it was flat, almost like a neon sign. It’s more like exhibition design; you’re creating this world that people can walk around. The only downside is when you don’t know what to draw.
Have you always been interested in technology?
My mom says she remembers me playing with floppy disks when I was growing up in El Salvador. My stepdad taught me how to disconnect from technology. I’d visit him in Fresno, California, and help him plant radishes, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

What got you interested in virtual reality?
Two movies. One called Gamer—kids were controlling prison inmates in a Call of Duty–style game. I was like, Wow. There’s a lot you can do that’s not just in front of a screen or on a phone. Also Iron Man. He’s a tech genius and has a super smart A.I. that runs his house. He’s walking around, pulls a file out of thin air, crumples it, and tosses it over his shoulder. I can’t wait till we have that interaction of technology and reality.
When will we get there?
Maybe 10 years. A lot of that stuff is already accessible—in medical school, they can take an anatomical model and expand it and show all the details—but it’s expensive.
Are you worried about the effect of technology on society?
No. Everything can be bad if it’s abused. But it’s true: In VR, you can go anywhere. You can do anything. When you take off the VR headset, you get a little sad. Reality is disappointing. After a while, you don’t want to be here anymore.