Museum of Other Realities: A Brief Introduction

The Museum of Other Realities (MOR for short) is a new social virtual reality platform I first heard about in a presentation by Dr. Joshua McVeigh-Schultz, which launched in the Early Access program on Steam yesterday for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows MR headset users.

In an official blogpost, the company describes the purpose of MOR:

The MOR is a virtual art museum filled with mind-bending VR art. As an immersive multiplayer art showcase in VR, the MOR encourages visitors to view and interact with art in new ways , whether that means diving into a painting or touching the art, causing it to change shape. VR, as a creative tool, is still pretty young and yet artists are already breaking new ground and creating amazing work with it.

We realized that the same ‘newness’ that gives artists the opportunity to experiment, however, also means that it can be difficult for them to get their work seen by a wider audience as intended, so we set out to address this with the MOR.

Art by Danny Bittman in the MOR

The product has been in development over the past couple of years, holding invite-only exhibitions about once a month. UploadVR reported:

“I began building the MOR because people started making all these strange but very compelling VR experiences,” [MOR developer Colin] Northway wrote. “I found myself even more drawn to these weird art projects than I am to games. I started working on a few strange experiences myself but it’s so hard to get people into them, you’ll see it on twitter but if it’s a small experience people won’t take the effort to download it and try it. So I decided to start working on a way for people to experience all these wonderful things creators are making in VR and that’s the MOR.”

There are some talented artists exploring what they can do creatively with a game engine like Unity — and the immersive quality of VR — while others are producing increasingly complex works with VR-based art tools like Tilt Brush, Medium and Quill. Among the creators bringing their work to the MOR are artists like Liz Edwards, Danny Bittman and Isaac Cohen. What was once artwork experienced in the solitary confines of a universe built for one, at the MOR becomes a social phenomenon commented upon and shared by an entire community.

Unlike other social VR apps, MOR is not free; there is a one-time cost of US$19.99 (CDN$22.79). In their blogpost, the company explains why:

In addition to providing a space for artists to share their work, one of our main goals has always been to support the artists we feature. To this end, exposure, on its own, isn’t sufficient crypto-currency. We charge for the MOR because promoting the artists is equally as important as paying them for their work. We intend to continue supporting artists and the team responsible for making this museum a ‘reality’. This is especially significant because the MOR is an ongoing experience with amazing new art being added on a regular basis.

The current state of the Early Access version is described as:

The Early Access version is a smaller, streamlined edition of the Museum, usually for demoing at festivals and conferences. Even though it doesn’t have all the artwork and features we’d like to showcase (yet), the mechanics are in place for an immersive experience featuring amazing art. Over the next few months, we’ll build upon the experience, expanding not only the Museum’s architecture but also the variety of artwork we feature and the ways in which players can interact with them. 

Here are a couple of snaphots I took of a few of the exhibits. There’s not a lot to see yet, but what is there is already quite compelling. Many of the artworks are animated, and in one case, your avatar’s presence and movement within a dark gallery generates fractal art.

There’s a brief promotional video of the project up on YouTube:

The company has ambitious future plans to expand the features and content of MOR. You can follow the progress of the Museum of Other Realities project via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook,or you can join their Discord server. And I have added MOR to my comprehensive list of social VR platforms and virtual worlds.

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