Platform is an inclusive social medium in the form of a multiplayer VR space for creators to exhibit digital and new media arts (e.g. 3D models and virtual art installations) in one group exhibition setup. Everyone from all around the world is welcome to upload and showcase their artworks on this platform, and connect with the visitors of their arts in realtime.
I, as a new media artist, intended to create a multiplayer VR space dedicated to exhibiting 3D digital arts. Platform allows exploring the potential of using a new social medium in the form of a multiplayer VR space to share only 3D arts. I intended to create an accessible and equitable 3D platform as a virtual exhibition space for artists and visitors to connect, and showcase their works regardless of their geographic location, travel restrictions, financial situation, or mobility limitations. This exhibition includes various new and digital media installations, such as interactive audiovisual pieces, generative art, and 3D installations. Anyone can upload their work in this space like any other public social media.
Platform aims to build a community for creators. It helps showcase 3D art installations in realtime while focusing on social connections. My fellow digital and new media artists can exhibit their works in an inclusive space with no subjective or complicated curatorial processes. Also the participation is open to the public. All Artworks can be exhibited at one place and in one group exhibition setup. The audience would walk through the installations in this 3D space and interact with the art pieces virtually, since new media installations usually need to be experienced in real time and in relation to space.
There are some VR galleries out there. However exhibiting in such galleries would have a subjective curatorial process which will make a very subjective selection of artworks. Also these galleries are mostly exclusive and participation is by invitation. At Platform everyone is welcome to upload works, participate and showcase their works. The upload option will bring the artwork directly into the gallery space automatically. There will be some kind of a non-subjective AI curation and database system in the future as well.
My inspiration for creating this platform started from my personal experiences. Digital and 3D installations usually need to be experienced in real time and in relation to a 3D space. However, being in an in-person exhibition is not feasible for everyone due to travel discrimination and political travel bans (I suffered from Muslim travel bans as an Iranian before), expensive traveling fees, mobility limitations and disabilities, health issues and travel restrictions. These could cause various issues for both the artist and the audience. For instance, an underprivileged artist would suffer from a political travel ban and cannot visit the art from the other parts of the world, nor cannot install their work in international exhibitions. When I created my first virtual exhibition back in 2020 during the pandemic, I uploaded it on my website and made it accessible to everyone globally; then I felt very accomplished in my field of practice. All these experiences encouraged me to take this project, Platform, seriously. During the pandemic, enforced travel restrictions made traveling issues tangible to everyone. While traveling issues are strong reasons for having installations in online virtual spaces, I believe the urge to move installations to virtual spaces is backed up by two more causes. Firstly, installation in physical spaces can be problematic for artists in terms of going through the curatorial process, venue and equipment rentals, and material fees. I have experienced installing arts in physical spaces and have been aware of various challenges in setting them up. Secondly, a community for digital and new media creators must be built, in which everyone from around the world can feel included.
This artistic and innovative project allows exploring the potential of using a new social medium in the form of a 3D virtual space to exhibit art installations.
Outcomes – Prototype
- Creation of the 3D gallery and the foundation of the project. All walls, floorings, stairs and any kind of enclosure for artworks in this space are created using geometrical shapes and neutral colors. The gallery evokes a welcoming, creative, imaginary and futuristic space.
- Making the virtual gallery as a shared space (multiplayer), using the Photon PUN plugin for Unity.
- Turning the gallery into a VR space, using XR Interaction toolkit.
- Adding VR hands, camera and controllers.
- Reaching out to international digital, 3D and new media artists to use Platform and submit their artworks to be exhibited in this gallery. I had an announcement on art communities around me for artists to submit their artworks.
- Importing digital and 3D contents into the gallery – Importing Blender projects using shaders, animations and special effects.
- Making the project available for Oculus and Web.
- Optimization in terms of lighting, scaling and 3D objects.
- User experience design to enhance the appearance and UI of the gallery space.
- Speed tests for different machines and internet speeds – Doing research to fix the issues and make the project faster with minimal compromise in quality.
- Quality assurance and debugging.
Platform - Virtual Art Gallery in a Multiplayer Virtual Reality space (Metaverse experience) 2022 - 2023