The Architecture of Pixels
by Aaliya Shakti
A building that houses art should, of course, be artful. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, is a wonderful example of that. But... Virtual Reality is not REALITY. There’s no gravity for starters. You can float your building upside down or build it out of clouds. The sky is literally the limit. And that makes building impossible structures very, very tempting. The problem is that taken to extremes the art that a virtual gallery houses could find itself playing a distant second fiddle to its container.
Which brings us back to earth with a thud. The clear vision for Nuna is art. Design in this instance rides a tension between the 'impossible possible' and something more familiar to a visitor. At Nuna a carefully judged familiarity plays the dominant role out of these two principles.
That's not to say Nuna's designers haven't been inventive, playful and quirky. A virtual reality interface naturally lends itself to a level of quirkiness. Your avatar body has superpowers. You can fly like Superwoman. You can disappear like the Invisible Man. You can teleport like Spock. The list goes on. While your avatar won't gain any sustenance from a coffee or a glass of wine, there's still a cafe in the museum to sit and chat. There's an elevator to transport you between levels (you could fly, jump or teleport between floors, but, ironically, imposing real life limitations on your movement is somehow more satisfying.)
Avatars are not only able to see what’s in front of them, they can also "cam" (camera navigate) without physically moving. Sometimes you need to to this to find your bearings and sometimes it's just more efficient. Nuna's large open spaces are specifically designed with this ability in mind.
The gallery itself is necessarily large. At ground level is a sculpture park and the surrounding parklands. The parklands are quite beautiful and well worth exploring. They include cave systems with replicated prehistoric art.
The Penthouse (level 4, but who's counting?) is where the two Exhibition Galleries are found. These galleries feature contemporary exhibitions by professional artists. Exhibitions typically run for a month or more and have opening nights and other related special events. The benefit for an artist of exhibiting virtually is, of course, international exposure. 3RG has users and visitors from all over the globe.
Level 3 is dedicated to prehistoric, ancient and modern folk art. The prehistoric section is prefaced with a topological essay on human migration with an emphasis on the diaspora out of Africa by early homonids. Prehistoric art is mostly overlooked by art historians but that prejudice makes little sense. The minds that created these works were as sophisticated as our own and the works provide a context for all human art, through to the most contemporary work.
Level 2 includes Classicism, the Renaissance and Mannerism, the Impressionists, the Pre-raphaelites and the Hyperrealists. While this last group fits better chronologically in the contemporary section, they fall more easily to the eye set among other realist traditions.
Level 1 is dedicated to modernism and contemporary art. The works are laid out geographically and in the centre of the floor is the Gallery shop, on the balcony is the cafe. You can refer to our online map for navigation.Return to Essays