CAS Annual Conference – The Virtual in Museums: Hot Medium?

On the 10th of May 2018, Professor Andrew Dewdney presented a talk with the title “What Is The Current Fascination With VR On The Part Of Museums And Art Galleries?” in the Contemporary Art Society’s 2018 Annual Conference. This year’s annual conference explored the rapid development of digital imagery in the artistic realm and its representation in museums.

Abstract: Over the past two years more and more national and international museums and galleries have teamed up with technology companies to demonstrate how VR applications can be used in the cultural heritage sector. Modigliani’s studio in VR at Tate Britain, The Royal Academy in partnership with HTC Vive demonstrating VR in the ‘From Life’ exhibition, Zaha Hadid’s Architecture in VR at the Serpentine or Matt Collishaw’s reconstruction of the first photographic exhibition studio in VR at Somerset House. I could go on, The National Gallery and The British Museum teaming up with Oculus to provide virtual 3D headset tours, not to forget Google Arts and Culture’s now established Google Art Project partnerships using Google software tools. How are we to assess this growing trend? Is it a potential moment of radical change in the museum, or is it another fleeting fascination? One way of thinking about this is to ask how the current interest in VR applications relates to the wider technological environment of networked culture? The presentation takes the view that whilst VR devices and software are now more widely available and applicable, the current interest in their use may well be a distraction from a much greater virtual reality that has already taken place in everyday life. The network of networked computers, the World Wide Web, and global positioned connected mobile devices, have and continue to profoundly change what it is to be human. Whilst current interest from corporate content providers is in testing market appetite for immersive 3D interfaces, VR may very well turn out to be a nostalgic longing for a past imagined future world, rather than portal into a new one.

Read the full presentation, here: VR and the Museum, Andrew Dewdney

[featured image: Modigliani VR: The Ochre Atelier (Courtesy of Preloaded)]