An exhibition in a virtual world for the City of Lublin
“A Bear’s Dream’ is a VRChat exhibition. An event created entirely in a virtual world for the Municipality of Lublin as a part of CreArt to support the popularisation visual arts in communities all over Europe.
Lublin – our hometown – is one of twelve cities participating in CreArt, a Pan-European initiative that aims to popularise visual arts in communities. Among many actions that the Municipality of Lublin is making for CreArt, one of them suppose to be “A Bear’s Dream” – an artistic call for the sake of our Planet. Unfortunately, the situations that are happening worldwide – the pandemic – crossed the plans of our City. The exhibition couldn’t happen in the physical world because of the uncertainty and restrictions caused by COVID.
Together with the Municipality of Lublin and the Labirynt Gallery we needed to find the best medium for moving the exhibition into a “different” reality. At first, we were considering creating a new virtual world. This solution wouldn’t allow too many users to visit the exposition, because of the necessity of having VR-googles. So we switched to mobile. We considered mobile-VR show or even AR-esposition, but those ideas wouldn’t allow the “Bear’s Dream” to be realistic. Mobile devices would have to be rather low-poly to handle all the devices.
After, brainstorming, we were sure – there is only one solution: VRChat. It’s a ready to use virtual environment, that allows on creating new instances.
Our goal was to make “A Bear’s Dream” as realistic as it was inside the Labirynt Gallery. As if someone was in the building at Księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki 5 street in Lublin. The 3D model of the Gallery was provided for us. We needed to make the feeling of on-site visitation by setting up lights, shadows, and sounds.
Here, we needed to “play” a little with the model. Firstly, the file conversion from .skp to .blend. Next, the file was a little “overweighted” and needed adjustments to present as in a real-life. We took care of all the polygons, UVs, “painted” textures. After, the gallery was “divided” into smaller parts, which was essential for the smoothnes of working.
Moreover, we needed to take care of Gallery’s capacity. As a default VRChat allows only on a few avatars being able to participate in the event at one time.
We had some difficulties with video streaming, after finding a solution, and extra tests of the entire gallery, we were ready to ship.
The entire exhibition was based on a story – in a physical world, there would be gallery guide, or descriptions that will explain the background of the work. While we are in a virtual world, we could make users experiences a little more intimate. We were able to tell the story of each artifact directly to the user. Firstly, by displaying descriptions of works, like in a physical world. Mostly, by applying the audio that worked only in a small radious and only to this specific visitor. With this effect user gain the exclusivity of the art, as if it was at the rich of his/hers hand. Especially, if the user uses VR-goggles.
The project was one of the main events of the exhibition organized as part of the 2020 European Days of Artistic Creativity within the remit of the “CreArt. Network of Cities for Artistic Creation” program, conducted by the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Lublin and co-funded by the “Creative Europe” Programme of the European Union.
The entire exhibition is live. Together with the Municipality of Lublin and Gallery Labirynt we invite anyone interested in joining this immersive experience here: A Bears Drem in VRChat
There will be more! We prepared a mechanism, that the Curators of the exhibition could add artefacts by themselves. So, many more virtual objects will be in the upcoming days.
The exhibition can be visited from any PC with Windows, or – more immersively – with VR-goggles. So, everyone from any place on Earth, can “teleport” to Lublin’s Gallery Labirynt.
The article was written by Olga Paluszkiewicz and Mikolaj Kubiak – the brave team responsible for implementation of the project.