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