Occupy White Walls Now Allows You to Submit Artist Suggestions

Occupy White Walls (OWW for short) just keeps getting better and better. OWW allows you to create your own gallery and curate an art collection, pulling from a catalogue of thousands of artworks, from the ancient to the modern. People are doing insanely creative things with the platform (see the pictures here and here).

Occupy White Walls is working to expand the catalogue of art from which users can select items to display in their galleries. I am on their mailing list, and in a recent email they announced:

In June we added 461 public domain artworks and many artworks from contemporary artists too!

And, in response to user requests, you can now submit artist suggestions to OWW for them to consider adding to the game. They do caution:

While we love all art, sometimes it is not possible to have them in game, an example of this would be artists who died less than 70 years ago and are not in the public domain in their country of origin. Images need to me 2MB or larger in file size.

Here’s the form. You can submit as many different artists as you wish. I intend to use it to suggest some of my favourite Renaissance artists to OWW!

You can download Occupy White Walls for free from Steam.

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Coming Soon: Explore the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in Virtual Reality

This is a blog devoted to social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse, so I usually don’t cover non-social VR experiences (i.e. those you visit alone). But I’m going to make an exception for an experience showcased at the SIGGRAPH 2019 conference in Los Angeles.

VentureBeat reports:

There’s no shortage of sophisticated mixed reality hardware at Siggraph, but I was most impressed by a piece of software that really demonstrated VR’s educational and experiential potential. Christopher Evans, Paul Huston, Wes Bunn, and Elijah Dixson exhibited Il Divino: Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR, an app that recreates the world-famous Sistine Chapel within the Unreal Engine, then lets you experience all of its artwork in ways that are impossible for tourists at the real site.

Il Divino: Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in VR is described by its creators as follows:

The demo was created exclusively for the SIGGRAPH 2019 Immersive Pavilion, by the team behind the previous SIGGRAPH 2017 VR piece: Il Gigante: Michelangelo’s David in VR. Debuting at SIGGRAPH on Valve’s INDEX headset, Il Divino delivers an experience of the highest fidelity –you can see individual cracks and brush strokes in the plaster!

Attendees can step onto Michelangelo’s own scaffold to learn about how he painted the ceiling, or enter a Vatican conservator’s mobile aerial platform to see the ceiling up close, and learn about the controversial cleaning. In all, there are over 100 clickable elements connected to an hour of commentary talking about Michelangelo’s monumental work.

Later this year, it will be released to all as a freely downloadable experience, and it will continue to be added to and improved in the future.

This reminds me of a virtual recreation of the Sistine Chapel in Second Life, which I visited sometime in 2007 or 2008 (unfortunately, it is no longer available to visit):

My angel avatar visit the Sistine Chapel in Second Life (circa 2007)

If you are curious about how this VR experience was constructed, here is more information on the techniques used. There’s even some suggestions as to how you can help improve the project.

Here’s a video of the experience:

And here’s an interview with one of the creators, Chris Evans.

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.

Second Life Artist Bryn Oh’s Rabbicorn Trilogy

I first encountered the work of Canadian artist Bryn Oh in a whimsical yet menacing 2012 installation called Anna’s Many Murders, commemorated in this machinima created by the artist herself:

Since then, Bryn Oh has created dozens of evocative and compelling art installations in Second Life, skillfully using the virtual world as her canvas to tell many stories at the intersection of technology and art. Linden Lab has chosen to highlight her Rabbicorn installation trilogy in the most recent episode of their Second Life Destinations video series (created by Draxtor Despres):

If you have never experienced Bryn Oh’s art before, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit to her sim, Immersiva, and explore her work! Part one of the Rabbicorn trilogy is Daughter of Gears, followed by The Rabbicorn Story, and the third and final part is called Standby.

You can follow Bryn Oh on Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or via her blog.