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Berlin Virtually a Bust.


When I saw an opportunity to tour Berlin’s art galleries without the purchase of a plane ticket or need of a passport, I, of course, jumped.  I immediately went to Gallery Weekend Berlin and downloaded the Tundra Viewer for the Virtual Beta Tour from Spinningwire and beamed into what promised to be a memorable virtual art experience.   I was met, however, with the most lack luster presentations of art with which I have ever been greeted.  That includes any number of high school and community art shows held in gymnasiums and city halls.

I do not mean to say the art was sub-par, only that the presentation rendered the exhibits lifeless.   The olive drab green and white map upon which little white block galleries stood was anything but inviting.  The avatars rendered entirely in white blended in to the backgrounds.  In short the entire setting, and display platforms were so uninteresting and uncreative that the works of over 60 talented artists in the 51 galleries were swallowed –up almost entirely into a  blank canvas.

This is the view for a visitor of the virtual map at the street level:

View of the exhibit from the street level.

What follows next is a screen shot of the map from which guests navigate the environment by clicking onto the galleries:

Navigation Map of Berlin.

Apart from the lack of color or composition in this environment to engage the interests and imaginations of visitors, the problems here are:  there is no way to preview the art, no way to focus your tour on painting, photography or sculpture, no way to track where you have already been, and no master list of the galleries to use as a guide.

In addition, the art is almost obliterated in the virtual white walls  upon which it is mounted.  I have not included screen shots of this because I did not want to violate copyrights. But, imagine if you well  a small photograph with a light background mounted on a white wall which you cannot really walk up to and examine closely.  The most delicate pieces were  obliterated.   The darker more bold pieces only looked awkward in this artificial and less than artfully designed  setting.  It was like looking at a piece of calligraphy the size of a letter envelope mounted on a white wall from too great a distance to make out the detail.

Almost any opportunity to view art is worth the effort.  There are some fine artists with unique visions on this tour whom you can surely mine out of the Virtual Gallery Weekend –Berlin event.  But, this presentation requires a lot of effort on the part of the guests even for those, like me, who are well acquainted with navigating virtual and online environments.  But the Tundra viewer was confusing and had limited capability.  While chat was available it was not used between avatars to discuss art but dominated by the “hosts” and “crew” present who were making their best effort to help avatars around the grid.

With so much effort involved, there is little pay off.  Guests and artists would have been much better served in a traditional online gallery rather than subjecting these works of art to an environment which their creators did not intend for them, and one that did not serve the art any more than pasting vacation photos into a scrapbook might.

What is most disheartening is that virtual worlds have so much to offer the art world.   It is unfortunate so many individuals unacquainted with virtual reality will be dissuaded by this exhibit of the possibilities of this technology to make viewing art online pleasurable and rewarding for all involved.  In Second Life you can create fabulous environments in which art can be enjoyed.

Over the next few weeks I will be giving my readers some insights advantages already in place for art galleries and curating in Second Life. Cecilia Delacroix’s Campus d’Arte in Second  Life is a fine example what virtual reality can offer the art world.  We will begin by exploring Delacroix’s art campus and examine opportunities to experience both real world and virtual art in a virtual environment.

Below, Eliza Quinzet contemplates the offerings of Cecilia Delacroix’s Campus d’ Arte:

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About Eliza Quinzet-Leijon

Interested in all creative endeavors, Eliza collects virtual books and art in Second Life. She also creates virtual sculptures. Lisa Johnson has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition and currently teaches English composition. She is currently attempting to learn Swedish in order to raise her status from that of mono to bi-lingual. Apparently, the ability to say "hello," "goodbye," "please," thank you," and "WTF" in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Swedish does not make one a polyglot.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Berlin Virtually a Bust.

  1. Subscribing to comments.

    Posted by John "Pathfinder" Lester | May 2, 2012, 6:31 pm
  2. “It is unfortunate so many individuals unacquainted with virtual reality will be dissuaded by this exhibit of the possibilities of this technology to make viewing art online pleasurable and rewarding for all involved.”

    You summed things up very nicely in that sentence. It’s sad to see wasted opportunities.

    But if you look hard enough, you can find incredibly innovative uses of virtual worlds for art exhibits. Most recently I’ve been blown away by Michgan State University’s Virtual Broad Art Museum at http://broadmuseum.msu.edu/VBAM/

    Full disclosure: VBAM uses the Jibe virtual world platform (http://bit.ly/jibetechnology) created by ReactionGrid, and I’m the Chief Learning Officer at ReactionGrid.

    Posted by John "Pathfinder" Lester | May 2, 2012, 6:35 pm
    • I wrote a brief entry a couple of weeks ago on the Broad Art Museum.
      http://elizaquinzet.com/2012/03/17/broad-art-museum-5/

      I love how accessible it is for any internet user. I also like way the art inhabits the rooms… moves through the space. Very interesting and innovative. I will check that and the other items you mention more closely.

      Thank you for reading!

      Posted by Eliza Quinzet | May 2, 2012, 6:44 pm
      • My apologies that I did not see your previous blog post about VBAM. I just recently discovered your blog , so I have some catching up to do! The intersection of art and virtual worlds has always been near and dear to my heart, so I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts. Take care.

        Posted by John "Pathfinder" Lester | May 2, 2012, 7:21 pm
      • Oh not at all, It is a very brief post and I think my readers will be encouraged by your endorsement of that project.

        My blog is very new. I have only recently really zoomed into some focus.

        I am also interested in the “intersection of art” between the real and virtual worlds. I am also looking at ways that literacy and composition intersect and how that will change written composition in the future. After looking at your blog I see it will be a great resource for me.

        Best Wishes

        Posted by Eliza Quinzet | May 2, 2012, 7:30 pm
  3. I see your point, and appreciate your perspective. I’m really excited to be reading this kind of critical review of the design, or architecture of this experience!

    However, I really appreciate their attempt to make the UI and virtual experience subtle and supportive, rather than something more obtuse, or trying to make a big noise about the design of the UI or the virtual architecture, when the experience is really about the art. It takes quite a bit of restraint to achieve that, imho.

    I think where they may have fallen a bit short is due to a more technical limitation we all face working in 3D virtual worlds – lag. If they’re going to work so hard toward to subdue the architecture and the UI in order to focus on the art, there really does need to be a focus on the art. Instead, they’re so many tiny thumbnails that take forever to load, which ultimately defeats the purpose of restraining the UI design, since the combination of lag, download time, and tiny thumbnails end up indirectly bringing the UI and architecture to the forefront of your experience, rather than the background, since its almost all you can see most of the time.

    I’m rambling, but long story longer – I really appreciate your perspective, and can’t wait to read more reviews! But I do appreciate the underlying concept behind their design, even if the technology fell just a bit short.

    See you in worlds!

    Posted by keystonesl | May 7, 2012, 3:24 am
  4. I see your point, and appreciate your perspective. I’m really excited to be reading this kind of critical review of the design, or architecture of this experience!

    However, I really appreciate their attempt to make the UI and virtual experience subtle and supportive, rather than something more obtuse, or trying to make a big noise about the design of the UI or the virtual architecture, when the experience is really about the art. It takes quite a bit of restraint to achieve that, imho.

    I think where they may have fallen a bit short is due to a more technical limitation we all face working in 3D virtual worlds – lag. If they’re going to work so hard toward to subdue the architecture and the UI in order to focus on the art, there really does need to be a focus on the art. Instead, they’re so many tiny thumbnails that take forever to load, which ultimately defeats the purpose of restraining the UI design, since the combination of lag, download time, and tiny thumbnails end up indirectly bringing the UI and architecture to the forefront of your experience, rather than the background, since its almost all you can see most of the time.

    I’m rambling, but long story longer – I really appreciate your perspective, and can’t wait to read more reviews! But I do appreciate the underlying concept behind their design, even if the technology fell just a bit short.

    See you in worlds!

    Posted by Jon Brouchoud (@ARCHVirtual) | May 7, 2012, 3:26 am

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