Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DOOM! Art Gallery Edition.

A friend of mine here in Berlin, Christoph Lauterbach who is finishing up an architecture degree, has put together a very interesting project. He is postponing his entry into the labor market as a drafting monkey to get a company off the ground dedicated to designing virtual art galleries. This is particularly for museums and blue-chip galleries, but also there is planned a service for individual artists.

As I understand the project, he will be designing a virtual urban center that will be dedicated to art showrooms and will then proceed renting out the real estate to interested parties. You can upload the two dimensional works that you want to be seen and they can even make 3-D models of sculptures or installations. The business model will follow something similar to World of Warcraft where you pay an initial fee to have your space designed and then a monthly premium to maintain the service.

This is not an incredibly new idea, as I remember a wacky visiting artist coming to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago sometime around 1997 talking about the fantastic future of art viewing in cyberspace. He even had a primitive "virtual reality" style example program. Other than that this artist painted rather uninspiring works of Nintendo controllers and tangled cables.

What is exciting here is that these virtual galleries are really well done and they are still only in a prototype phase. It is like a slow moving ego-shooter video game but dedicated exclusively to art connoisseurship. The most amusing part of the story is that their first prospective client was a guy that does really delicate multi-colored glass sculptures, which would be the equivalent of Dante's Inferno for computer modelers.

To view these virtual spaces you need a small plug-in for your web browser that the web pages in question will direct you to. Unfortunately this plug-in is only available for Apple and Microsoft operating systems.

The firm has a website called the Schauraumprojekte.
Navigate to "Showcase" to install the plug-in and see the first example.

Christoph made another example for his father who is a neo-cubist painter and antique dealer.
At the website of Galerie Lauterbach there is a Modernist two story virtual museum.


Don Jason said...

WOW! The Astromen! weblog has Linux stickers.

Mr. Alex said...

I'm just waiting for Corel + Adobe to port their flagship graphics packages to Linux.

And waiting...

And waiting...

Until then, the XP continues...

Don Jason said...

Regarding the project in this post which might end up being called "KunstMatrix" or something to that effect, there were some inquiries made a while back as to whether I could gather up some active people that are technologically inclined for a test group of individual artist virtual show rooms.

Has anyone taken a look at this yet, and is anyone interested in such a proposition?

Pete said...

Thanks for sharing this material, Jason.
I don't think it would be a bad idea to make a group virtual gallery early next year. I'm game for anything.

I checked out the listed virtual galleries mid-week, but was interrupted when writing about them. So I'll give an abridged version of my earlier criticisms.

The spaces are tomb-like. This is mostly because of the lack of an exit or people, and the proportions. It gives this weird sense that the experience is in a context vacuum.

The terms of representation put forth by the space and the paintings are at odds and undermine one another. This is a little unfair because the developers are limited by VRML, bandwidth, and their own time investment, but it is still a salient point.
The assumptions made about realism: the lighting, material depiction, perspective; are unraveled by mismatched resolutions in the texture maps, the levitating-eyeball effect, walking on the furniture, and the repetition of the pictures texture on the sides of the canvas. If I were to do it, I would probably stick to something like a line drawing for the VR, so that the pictures would become foregrounded. Like this Patrick Caulfield , or Matisse's Red Studio.

That's not to say it is a bad idea or poorly executed. I just think it is fraught with challenges.

It is kind of like a Walter Benjamin wet dream. Though I am not keen on having a n "is it art?" discussion ad nauseum.

Pete said...

Alex, there is no shame in having a dual-boot system. I have an XP partition for AutoCAD and some of the network functionality of XP professional.

Pete said...

I didn't mean to step on your toes, Jason.
I was just offering some constructive criticism. Maybe I came across as snotty.