What if your smartphone could host not only content surrounding an exhibition, but the exhibition itself? Through a unique partnership, Rhizome and the New Museum launched an app dedicated to virtual reality art.
First Look: Artists’ VR, available both for iOS and Android, allows users to experience virtual reality art for free, just by downloading the app, the chosen artwork and by putting their phone into a VR headset. For the launch, six commissioned experiences have been included in the app and they can be described as socially-involved, violent, contemplative or magical through the immersion in audiovisual worlds.
Virtual Reality could already be experienced within the museum venue and with or without screens like at ACMI X or at the Palace of Whitehall. Then again, the Dali Museum created a video inspired by Dali’s universe and released it online to go along with an exhibition. First Look: Artists’ VR also isn’t the New Museum’s first online exhibition, but the continuation of a schedule of online exhibitions started back in 2012. But what makes this VR exhibition unique is the fact that is what first and foremost created to be shared for free with anyone with a smartphone and something as cheap as a Google Cardboard and does not exist at all within the walls of the new museum.
The partnership is also a perfect example of how a museum incubator can expand a museum’s activity. Indeed, Rhizome – an advocate for contemporary arts and digital cultures – is one of the two biggest members of the New Inc., the New Museum’s incubator. EEVO, the startup that provided the VR platform, is not part of New Inc. but the partnership is the great example of how open innovation can provide an experience that is powerful and unique and fully aligned with a museum’s missions of making art always more accessible and fostering young artists and new forms of art.