An artist creates an interactive painting using Unreal Engine 5 and Kinect

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An artist creates an incredibly interesting interactive artwork that uses Unreal Engine 5 and Kinect to follow the viewer’s perspective.

Painting is one of the oldest and most enduring art forms. But one thing that paintings have in common with modern visual media like video games and movies is that they have a frame. Whether it’s the frame around a painting in a gallery or the edges of a screen, the art itself can only be seen through this small window. The best art, in any medium, is that which uses this frame and makes the viewer believe that the world they see in could exist beyond the confines of the frame. Focus and lighting are key to achieving this effect, as seen with motion pictures like The Batman.

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Video games are unique among art forms in that they allow the viewer to control the subject within the frame. The 90s saw the refinement of 3D games that allowed for the creation of complete in-game worlds that the player could freely explore and interact with. These virtual worlds are becoming more and more realistic with the development of engines like Unreal Engine 5.

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Now, a creative artist on Reddit named bernielaoh has taken that element of interactivity and implemented it into a more traditional gallery-style portrait with stunning, mysterious artwork. The artwork itself was made using Unreal Engine 5, which allowed it to have extremely realistic visuals. It depicts an extremely moody and atmospheric scene that shows a woman lying in the grass in the dark, and it’s not clear at first if the woman is alive or dead.


What really elevates the painting are its interactive elements, as the piece is also connected to a Kinect sensor. Kinect was Xbox’s ill-fated motion sensor that wasn’t widely accepted by gamers, but the device found a second life being repurposed for art projects, robotics, and healthcare. Bernielaoh used the Kinect sensor by tracking the viewer’s position in relation to the painting and allowing the viewer to freely investigate the edges of the frame.

Another impressive interactive element of the artwork is the flashlight sitting on a table next to the painting. Viewers can point this flashlight at the painting to cast virtual light on the 3D scene. Not only does this reveal more detail of the painting, but it also adds to the spooky atmosphere of the room which is comparable to flashlights and dark forests found in Alan Wake.


The table next to the Reddit user’s interactive painting also contains a phone that will ring after a certain amount of time. If the viewer answers the phone, they will hear a breath followed by someone saying “but Jenny, what are you doing?” before the line goes out. Bernielaoh states that they are currently seeking funding to complete a series of five more interactive paintings similar to this one.

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