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Watch tiny-penis-Trump painter Illma Gore go nuts for tech

The artist's latest project, timed for Election Day, harnesses her art to technology. Like, three different kinds of technology

For an artist, it's hard to get techier than crafting a piece in virtual reality. Unless you live-stream it on Facebook. While crowdsourcing ideas from the social media hive mind.


Artist Illma Gore is combining virtual reality, live-streaming and crowdsourcing in a art project timed for US Election Day.

Erica Summers

Illma Gore rose to prominence in February when her painting depicting US presidential candidate Donald Trump with a tiny penis went viral on Facebook before it was pulled down and Gore was temporarily banned. Tuesday, she's tapping the social network to help with another piece of political art.

Called "Creating a Political Monster," Gore will fashion the piece in virtual reality, using a Google program called Tilt Brush, and stream the process on the Facebook page of digital-video-network Machinima, taking live suggestions from online viewers to guide her.

The experiment sits at the crossroads of how technology is changing both art and politics. Virtual reality offers artists a new medium, allowing them to enter digital worlds where they can paint onto thin air or tell a story that puts a viewer in the middle of the action. Meanwhile, be it Wikileaks email hacks or 3 a.m. Twitter rants, technology has been instrumental in one of most unconventional elections in US history.

Tuesday's live streamed piece isn't the first time Gore has crowdsourced input for an art project. With "Human Canvas," Gore solicited strangers to submit names, words or pictures for her to tattoo on her body from head-to-toe for $10 a pop, operated first on Kickstarter and later on GoFundMe.

And this isn't her first foray in VR.

Gore was one of 18 artists who created virtual-reality projects as part of the South by South Lawn event last month at the White House. There, viewers could put on a headset to step into the virtual art and look at it from all angles, and they live on as 3D models anyone can explore online. That her art was on display at the White House was "just crazy to me," she said in an interview on Monday. "I'm just a ragamuffin."


Illma Gore's portrait of Donald Trump with a small penis, shown here at London's Maddox gallery, went viral on Facebook in February.

Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images

That project introduced her to Tilt Brush, which puts users in a virtual room where they can essentially paint on the air around them. The group project, called "Open Your Eyes," gave Gore about 24 hours to experiment "in the machine," as she put it.

She found that her background in spraypainted street art translated well to painting in virtual reality.

"Holding a can of spray paint, you have to have very specific precise movements," she said. "When I went into Tilt do the same movements, it was the same kind of jerks I would do with the can."

Gore on Tuesday will stream her next VR creation live on Machinima's Facebook page from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. PST (5 p.m. to 7 p.m. EST). It's being shot in Machinima's VR studio in 360 degrees, which will allow viewers to watch as if they're walking with Gore through Tilt Brush's virtual room as she paints her "political monster."

Gore is hopeful that the interactivity of the Machinima stream will be a fun counterbalance to the tension of this election. But she's not naive about political climate today: She was punched in the face in April by someone yelling Trump slogans, presumed backlash against her nude portrait.

"Because there's so much negativity surrounding this election, hopefully it's just fun and interactive," Gore said of her expectations about what the crowd may suggest.

But "I'm going to definitely get some penis recommendations."