Three things that are wildly popular at the time of this writing are Virtual Reality (VR), Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) and the concept of the Metaverse (or Oasis for fans of “Ready Player One”, book and movie).
This article is not about explaining each one, but about how they can be combined effectively to form a coherent immersive experience for viewers, creators, and consumers of art.
Ahh . . . Art, that elusive thing that defines our culture through the ages, and reflects beauty in the eyes of each beholder. Such a personal thing, so different for each individual; unique and sometimes priceless.
It only makes sense that art and technology are siblings,
Leonardo da Vinci understood this, and he lived over 500 years ago.
So what happens when you combine the computer technologies of VR and Blockchain via “the Internet killer app”, the Browser?
Well, the answer to that question is different for each prospective actor (my business analyst speak). You have Art Creators, Art Consumers (or Customers) and Art Sellers (Galleries, Auction Houses).
So let’s keep it simple, and say there are just three. Creators, Consumers and Sellers of art. Consumers can of course be re-sellers, but let’s not go there for now, or our scope of this article will become too large for effective discussion.
You know how to access the browser from inside your VR headset. You also know that VR has come to the browser in the form of a new specification called WebXR. You even know that there is an easy way to do VR in HTML with A-frame. I’ve written a number of blog posts and articles on this myself (a shameless plug or humorous art, grossly funny, you decide).
Now, you also have been experimenting with crypto currencies recently and their exchanges for weeks, you even have a hard wallet to protect your digital money, and assets on the blockchain with your private key.
So if you are a “Consumer” of art, you want to buy an NFT. If you are a “Creator” of art, you want consumers to buy your NFTs. If you are a market “Seller” of art (NFTs) you are probably someone like Open Sea. Or many of the other art sale platforms out there.
Now, if you have a physical world gallery. I’ll define you as a new actor “Physical Gallery”.
There is one other new actor, implied by this article, “Virtual Gallery”. This is the one we will talk about in the remaining part of this article, and demo for you. It is the artist/re-seller who sells their work directly through VR.
There is a lovely French derived word called “provenance”, its meaning is a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality. The blockchain acts as provenance. Hence, an artist creator can protect her work from being stolen, and sold as someone else’s. She can even get a royalty after each resale of her artwork on the NFT market.
Of course there is the blockchain Gas Fees, but there are “gas fees” in the real world too; associated with energy in transporting, hanging, lighting art and staffing in a real world art gallery as well. This article is not about solving the current sustainability problem of crypto currencies, and that is outside the scope of this article.
I’m considering moving to Tezos. I initially started with Ethereum, as most artists first do.
[This is an important sidebar topic] I got so many comments after I posted this article about the concern of ecological damage to the planet caused by NFTs, that I thought I would include this sidebar research, to address those obviously important concerns, and to show that there are alternative “clean NFTs” out there: Links to clean NFTs for artists video below.
Now, continuing with the main article topic, Digital Art can be displayed on special screens made just for that. So for buyers of art, consumers, they can even display their collections on the walls of their physical home; or their personal virtual spaces in VR; on their phones with friends, and social networks, in their virtual worlds and games. Because remember, the blockchain conveys provenance.
So I think I have said enough, let us actually take a look at some implementations of virtual reality art galleries and NFTs. How about I use my art as an example? (shameless plug again, you say, yes!).
This first one Artuego.com is viewable with your phone, and developed by a friendly acquaintance of mine, the second one I show you will require a desktop or VR headset, and is completely my own work in virtual.
This one is my own VR immersive gallery experience and requires moving around yourself, with WASD keys, and left mouse drag on a computer. In VR , left or right toggle on VR controller. Select with mouse or right VR trigger to see more detail and purchase my NFT art on Open Sea.
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Art room VR Gallery - July 26, 2021 By Michael McAnally
As a tangent, one of my best art works is an actual poem I wrote over a decade ago for my Transhuman Singularity sci-fi futuristic blog.
Finally, to sum it all up, the title of this article is a math equation. VR Galleries + NFTs = Metaverse. What I’m saying is one facet of the coming metaverse is art, and everything the happens with it in the real world is being digitized and duplicated in the virtual, and in virtualized 3D immersive spaces. Browser based VR Art spaces like mine, and others in virtual worlds, social VR or VR Chats, are growing across the internet. No one can really say where it will all eventually end up. It’s too early for that prediction. However, I’m absolutely positive that virtual reality, and even AR will be some part of that answer, and it will be married to the blockchain!
OK, before you go linking off . . . Thank you for reading. I have put a lot of work into this project and please clap me up if you enjoyed this article, follow me, oh and buy my artwork or simply share this article with someone.