Going virtual may have allowed Sample’s imagination to run wild, but that doesn’t mean it allowed VOMA to escape the paperwork. Some physical museums are still developing their policies for digital loans and licenses. Copyright and image rights organizations like DACS are involved, such as artists’ estates, which means that color reproduction, framing, and lighting are verified by multiple teams, as much as they are physical. VOMA’s team is equally thorough and detailed in its research and entertainment process. “We consider works with a lot of respect and we spend a lot of time making their virtual versions as best we can,” Sample said.
For all its bells and whistles, what might be most interesting about VOMA is, well, how annoying it looks. With technology that makes the fantasy game world easily accessible, its creators could set it up on Tatooine if they wanted to, or at least the moon. Instead, its aesthetics can best be described as Marfa modernity. Lots of open space and clean lines. Stucco and art-look steel fixtures. There is even a gift shop. “We don’t want anything to disrupt the work, so we did our best to ground it into a familiar experience,” Sample said. “No explosions, no flying, no insane light effects. It’s much more concise and focuses on artistry.”
Consistent with his emphasis on accessibility, Sample canned the first version of VoMA, which his team spent several months building. He described it as “unprecedented”, but needed a powerful computer and gigabytes of downloads and plug-ins to run it. “The Geckers liked it,” He said, “But if you live in a developing country with a small instrument, you will not get any opportunity.”
The key is to give people that opportunity. It is too early to say how much virtual museums will inspire the art world, if at all – VOMA still has an average of about 500 visitors per day. But it does provide a blueprint for ways to share works that people might not otherwise see, even if it could never replace the museum experience. Virtual setups, too, make it easy to curate shows. “In virtual spaces, there is more flexibility to pick rooms of different sizes,” he says. “You can move the artwork around, you can frame it in the same way.” The process worked so well, Duong used a virtual platform to plan a recent physical show. “On the day of the execution,” he said, “it was uninterrupted.”
While many in the art world are debating the advantages and disadvantages of virtual and physical space, one team – Teamlab im is creating experiences that transcend those differences. An international gathering of hundreds of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects, Teamlab believes that there were no limitations between oneself, the virtual world and the physical world. To prove this, they use augmented reality and other submerged technologies to remove what they see as artificially imposed barriers.
Their current exhibition at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, teamLab: continuity, Collect pieces across multiple rooms. There is nothing predetermined, the presence and movement of the audience creates and changes each piece so that it is constantly evolving. Because it requires personal communication, anyone wants to see Continuity It has IRL experience. In a room, standing still creates pictures of blooming plants across the space. Give a swollen foot, and it dries up and dies. Crows jump across other rooms, leaving a path of light, scattering what they fly, but when they collide with humans they melt into huge flowers. “Through an interactive relationship between the audience and the artwork, people become an integral part of that artwork,” The sum says.