The Report from the Museum of Other Realities

Pandemics, green focusing, shortness of time and money will make people become online at some point. Few weeks ago, I visited First Look XR Market, which took place virtually in the Museum of Other Realities, recently opened virtual museum for XR art. It turned out, that VR could be real alternative for offline human communication.

To get into the museum I needed to buy the program Museum of Other Realities in Steam. The interior of the entrance reminded an average contemporary art center with white walls and complicated curved halls. At first I chose an avatar. All avatars looked like robots, which differed in a form, a color and a name above.

Although the space was virtual I still needed to find the auditorium of the event. In the entrance hall there was a navigation desk — I had to choose the room and go along the shining line through the museum with joysticks. In my way I met “a ghost”, an avatar of the person, who wasn`t registered for the event, but went through the same rooms as me. We could see each other, but couldn`t speak and made friend requests.

The conference was divided in two parts: the pitching and the market. Going into the room, I found the stage with an avatar of a speaker on it and the full room of spectators` avatars. The ability of speaking inside was muted not to distract the speaker — I could speak offline, but nobody heard. All listeners waved with their virtual hands for greeting.

Two speakers performed simultaneously from one avatar — I could hear male and female voices. Some people were tired to hold joysticks and left them on the floor — in VR they looked like persons with very long hands. At one moment the avatar of a listener napped on the floor in a very strange pose — in VR it seemed that he needed to be woken up, but its owner just took off the glasses and left offline. The behavior of some visitors told that they spoke to somebody offline. There was a bug — it turned out that some visitors didn`t see presentations (may be because of different VR devices).

After the pitch sessions everybody went to the expositional space, where every project had a room. Some rooms were designed in the style of the project, in some rooms there were installations and virtual worlds. Inside a room I could meet an artist and chat with him/her. The app had 3D surround sound, so it was loudly as in the real life. All visitors could drink virtual cocktails and make photos — every avatar had free bar inside. To make a photo I had to combine my hands as a frame — the virtual camera appeared between joysticks.

Beyond presentations and parties, the Museum of Other Realities works as a museum — it demonstrates pieces of XR artists in Tilt Brush, Quill, 3D etc. Finally, Museum of Other Realities — is one of the most convenient spaces for VR communication. It seemed to me that the developers successfully reached balance between quality and utility. The program didn`t hang while it was used by many visitors, at the same time the space and avatars didn`t look plain.

This article uses photos and videos from the Museum of Other Realities and materials from the conference First Look XR Market, organized by Kaleidoscope fund.