This week, a quick example of how each is possible.
1. VAN GOGH GOES EXPERIENTIAL
The video below is a gorgeous example of the possibility of substantive, emotional experiences with museum content via virtual world representations.
It's a machinima (video) by Robbie Dingo, a 3D recreation of Van Gogh's Starry Night.
As one YouTube visitor commented:
A masterpiece recreated. I watched the beauty unfolding in front of me. Maybe someone once watched Vincent creating the original and felt the same way.Sadly, Robbie's goal was to use Second Life as a platform to create a 2D representation of the painting--so the 3D space of the painting is not available for visitors to explore. But imagine the possibilities for a museum to take an iconic painting or artifact and create a 3D version of it for visitors to wander. Narrative information could be embedded throughout the landscape, or an entire exhibition's worth of content could be embedded metaphorically in the space. The result is one solution to the "problem" of viewing 2D art--that it's hard to figure out how to focus and be attentive to the piece if you don't have a strong art background. Creating a 3D space to explore encourages visitors to spend more time with the piece, literally getting inside it.
I hope so.
2. GALLERY OPENINGS, SOCIAL OPENING
There have been many art events and openings in Second Life, perhaps most significantly Brian Eno's 77 Million Paintings, which was recreated in four Second Life locations for a weekend event earlier this month. Giff Constable of the Electric Sheep Company had some interesting observations about the unique social aspect of this event:
Was it real (a question perpetually asked by the perplexed)? Well, I ran into some people I knew, met some interesting new folks, got into the vibe of the art, and even ended up in an art conversation chatting about interesting artists like Stephen Hendee and Joshua Davis. But was I with those people in Second Life? We were certainly making mental connections, and frankly, I probably spoke to more people than I would at a real-life art opening. It is easy to feel lonely at a real art show surrounded by people who are strangers, but I bet very few people logged into that event in Second Life last night felt that way.I've written before about the ways that adding a layer of technological barrier can open up people to more comfortable interaction with strangers. In the same way, virtual worlds may be a more natural venue to encourage discourse about museum content among strangers than real-world physical galleries, where social norms override desire to communicate.