August. 24th 2021
The art collective Crazy Multiply is organizing an online exhibition in a virtual environment
|An avatar of a Korea Times reporter wanders through Crazy Multiplys’ online virtual gallery
From Jon Dunbar
The high number of new COVID-19 infections every day and the corresponding social distancing measures have made it difficult for artists and art lovers to gather in galleries. So, Crazy multiplication, a Seoul-based nomadic curator collective that promotes Korean and international artists, hosted its latest exhibition, DotGIF, online in a virtual 3D environment, in which the works of 27 artists from around the world are presented.
When visiting the art exhibition’s website, dotgif.kr, users are prompted to select a color, basic facial expression, and screen name. Then they find themselves in the lobby of Crazy Multiply’s colorful virtual gallery, surrounded by other cube-shaped avatars that circle around flashing greetings. You can use the keyboard to move around the room and through doors to exhibition halls.
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“We had no explicit intention of exploring the concept of a metaverse, but we wanted to offer a more interactive and realistic experience that best simulates an offline exhibition while presenting mostly exclusively digital works of art,” said Crazy Multiply members in a prepared one Statement to the Korea Times.
This virtual realm is not a true example of Metaverse as each user is alone in the gallery, just surrounded by bots encoded with random appearances and greetings, no more sophisticated than a video game non-player character (NPC).
“Their movements are pretty simple and repetitive, so we weren’t sure if people would actually mistake them for real-time visitors to the site, but as some have told us they thought they would be viewing the exhibition with other people on the website at the same time, “said Crazy Multiply members.” They said it really added to the experience. “
“Personally, I see them as a substitute for real people,” explained the designer of Crazy Multiply, who described the exhibition as “a digital work of art that pays homage to the metaverse”. “To believe that the people you meet online actually exist in real life feels like a mutual agreement in some ways.”
The work of art is divided into five exhibition rooms, which have to be approached sequentially like advancing levels in a video game. When approaching a work of art, the user is prompted to press the space bar for more information about the work and the artist.
There’s also an extensive menu of text-based information about the exhibition and artists, as well as an overview of the history of the GIFs and memes, from the first GIF from 1987 showing a flying jet to the Bernie Sanders mittens meme.
|Estrobomb’s digital collage “@voicemailberlin” presents a pastiche of phone sex advertisements from the 1990s that emphasize loneliness and longing for society amid increasing isolation and anti-Asian racism. / Courtesy of Estrobomb|
The five rooms are themed: 3D / Glitch Art, Retro-Style GIFs, Memes, Illustrated GIFs and Mixed Media. Of the 27 participating artists, eight live in Korea, nine in the USA and one each from Romania, France, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, Italy and Taiwan.
|Kim Young-mi’s animated GIF ‘On the Way to a Picnic’ shows digitally drawn rabbits that have been inserted into images of her previous work in order to transfer them to the digital world. / Courtesy Kim Young-mi|
Under the panels in Room 1 is “Computer World” by LA-based neo-pop artist and graphic designer Wilmer Alexander Gonzalez, who shows a ball floating through a virtual room with the slogan “Don’t be fear” on the wall hops. “Now that the digital world is an integral part of the world, I have decided to merge these two realities into one,” the artist explained in his contribution. “While it may seem like a criticism of the way we use technology, it is actually meant to celebrate its weirdness. Why not embrace the change? Why not use what we are given as a tool to stop being afraid, to help one another more. To do not let fear and fear consume our soul. ”
|Wilmer Alexander Gonzalez’s animated GIF entitled “Computer World” / Courtesy of Wilmer Alexander Gonzalez|
In room 2, the simple animated picture by the South African illustrator Meryl Booth offers a “look at vapor and retrowave as a medium of digital relaxation and nostalgia in a boring dystopia of being trapped online at home”.
In the overcrowded third room for Memes, Belgian artist Kopano Maroga shows sexually suggestive self-portraits in her series “Venus in Pisces”, overlaid with provocative texts like “All I want is to be a powerful slut … and overthrow the government . “You comment in an article:” Your body can be a cage, but it is also a key. ”
|A meme from Mats Nesterov Andersen’s ‘Global Self Hypnosis’ series / Courtesy of Mats Nesterov Andersen|
In room 4 the untitled animated GIF by the Italian artist Obsolat is shown, which a The human heart turns into a social media representation of a heart a strong picture of “how the digital age is changing perceptions and meanings”.
Room 5 presents three of the artists Halo Lahnert‘s “Who’s Flung Baby?” Images that show the artist as a young girl exploring the virtual, physical and emotional world, produced on embroidery and hook carpets. “No matter where she is, the worlds she encounters are non-linear, fragmented and layered on top of one another – just like our experiences,” said the artist in an article. “I imagine Flung Baby tossed endlessly from situation to situation; but she is also strong, flexible and adventurous. I use Flung Baby to explore my transness and the way I feel diverse, virtual and chaotic with the internet offline and in my hands, either as drawings or as textiles. ”
|An image from Halo Lahnert’s ‘Who is flung baby?’ Series / Courtesy of Halo Lahnert|
After stepping through the last door, the user receives retro video game-inspired credits, early customizable home pages on sites like Angelfire and Geocities, and the scroll from the “Star Wars” films that “pay homage to video games, internet and nerd culture.” . “
“When and when the technology for virtual and augmented realities is so advanced that it becomes indistinguishable from reality, I think the metaverse will really be a metaverse,” said the Crazy Multiply designer. “I just think that the term only makes sense if it is indistinguishable from reality or has an unmistakable influence on it. In a way, we can no longer live without our phones. A life that cannot be sustained without the metaverse were on the way. “
|A Korea Times reporter avatar comes across a chatty bot in Crazy Multiply’s online virtual gallery.
The Crazy Multiply team has expressed an interest in returning to smaller, more frequent, community-based events, depending on the impact of social distancing measures. “Preferably in person, but also online!” they added. “At the moment, however, we will hold back. We have worked hard over the years and throughout the pandemic, so giving ourselves some rest is a priority. In the future, however, further exploring the use of the internet as an event and exhibition space is something we would definitely consider. “
visit dotgif.kr to jump into the online virtual exhibition of Crazy Multiply, or Instagram @crazymultiply for more informations. The event ends on September 15th.