I believe everyone must have access to art and art galleries regardless of their geographic location, financial situation, travel restrictions, and mobility limitations. I intend to create an accessible and inclusive virtual 3D platform as a gallery space for artists and visitors to connect, interact and showcase interactive digital arts such as interactive audiovisual pieces. Anyone can upload their work in this space like other public social media, and works will be monitored to meet community guidelines (sensitive content about different grounds of discrimination, hate speech, bullying, and other harmful content are prohibited). My goal is to make this virtual space as a shared and safe space for artists and visitors, from all around the globe, to attend, interact and exhibit their digital arts remotely using different devices and internet speeds. Visiting this gallery would be by donation and collected money will be paid to participating artists. The audience would walk through the installations in this 3D space and interact with art pieces virtually, since interactive art installations need to be experienced in real time and in relation to space.
There are many physical and virtual galleries out there, however they are not inclusive and accessible. Visiting and showcasing art in physical galleries around the globe would not be easy for an underprivileged artist who suffers from political travel bans and cannot travel. Also there are expensive venue fees, equipment fees, and other obstacles for artists who have financial problems. Visiting existing virtual galleries and museums need proper devices, VR headsets and high speed internet, which are not accessible for everyone. I, as an artist, feel the responsibility to ease the ways of exhibiting and visiting interactive digital media installations.
My inspiration for creating this platform started from my personal experiences. Initially I was inspired by the travel discriminations due to political travel bans, expensive traveling fees, mobility limitations, health issues and travel restrictions. These could cause various issues for both the artist and the audience. Before I became a Canadian I suffered from the travel ban on Muslim countries such as Iran. I was not able to visit a specific exhibition in the US because of my Iranian nationality. Even if a travel ban is not an issue, travel fees are not affordable. For example, my family and friends back in Iran could hardly afford to visit my physical installations and artworks in Canada. When I created my first virtual exhibition, I installed it on my website and made it accessible to them. I was finally able to showcase my work to my family and friends back in Iran and felt very accomplished in my field of practice. All these experiences encouraged me to take this project seriously and complete it to the end. My community, Iranian students and artists in Canada, have all experienced the challenge of travel restrictions and discriminations. I encountered many instances of people being rejected at visa offices and they were not able to attend a conference. During the pandemic, enforced travel restrictions made this issue more sensible to the public and travel became an issue for everyone. While travel bans and restrictions 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 affording venue fees, equipment rentals, and travel fees. I have experienced installing arts in physical spaces and have been aware of various challenges in setting them up. Secondly, physical attendance could be a concern for disable people who have mobility limitations and cannot travel. Overall, I believe that everyone must have access to art, regardless of their nationality, geographical location, and physical condition.