Ten Cubed

Topic: Art Subtopic: General

Case Study

of an Exhibition

by Haydn Shaughnessy

Published on February 26, 2008, Modified on February 27, 2008

  • Description and goals

    We set out to create an exhibition space in a virtual environment that brought real life design values – ie the form would in some way improve the functionality – into the virtual world. We wanted a virtual exibition space that clearly worked in some way other than looking good. We wanted to explore function in a virtual world.

  • Development process and challenges

    I have a deep belief that virtual spaces offer extraordinary gains for museums and for the pubic. They also offer us an opportunity to <a href= “http://www.depoconsulting.com/blog/?p=46”>play with the imagination in new ways. They mean we can exhibit more at very low cost to the museum/gallery and the public. The problem is many virtual spaces are badly designed and simply don’t function. Taking the cube into a virtual space causes congestion as there is no impulse to move and it creates very poor aesthetics which can really let an exhibition down – if you can’t create a beautiful space how can you curate great art?

    These problems bothered me so much that I decided to go to a real life architect, initially an expensive option but one that solved the problems we faced.

    My brief was that I wanted the exhibition space to work on different vertical levels. I didn’t want something that used infinite space but did want something that was recognisably from an architectural heritage or tradition. I didn’t want stairs and I wanted a sense of movement, a compulsion for people to move around this space was the uppermost priority.

  • Lessons learned, mistakes we made (and what we did about them)

    We designed a virtual space that many people tell us is a work of art in its own right. It functions very well in that it impels people to move around and “visit” the works.

    Where we hit problems was mostly the tension between the gallery’s core purpose and the architect’s desires. We have coloured windows in our virtual gallery; our artists are accustomed to the white cube. We have created tight spaces, narrow corridors and broad open expanses as well as open gangways. These are discomforting to some artists and require a mindshift to be used properly.

    Right now we’re living with these different aspects and testing reactions rather than jumping to conclusions. To create narrowness in virtual space is strange but for some art works it is what is needed. Equally the broader open spaces appear to need filling. There’s a learning curve here.

  • Exhibition Opened: February 2008

  • Exhibition Still Open!

  • Traveling Exhibition: No

  • Location: Second Life

  • Estimated Cost: Less than $100,000 (US)

  • Size: Over 10,000 sq ft.

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