The ‘new’ in new media art has caused handwringing in the capital A art world for about three decades; expert gatekeepers think long and hard about the criteria by which a select few works made with emerging technology (rather than within established mediums) make it into the white cube and bask in its limelight. A tough question lurks beyond ‘how do we display, collect, and preserve digital art?’ though. ‘What would a digital museum of digital art look like?’ is even more troublesome. Freed from material (polished concrete floors) and social (art selfie policies enforced by zealous docents) concerns, a digital museum could be pretty much anything: how exactly is it arranged spatially? What kind of works does it feature and what curatorial strategies does it engender? These dilemmas were explored with HTML in the 1990s, in Second Life in the ’00s, in smartphone and tablet augmented reality-enabled ‘overlay incursions’ into existing institutions quite recently – and now they are being reconsidered again in virtual reality.
Amongst the many eccentric VR projects we discovered at WEIRD REALITY last fall, none captured our imagination quite like DiMoDA. While eclectic ‘experiences’ abounded at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry-initiated symposium dedicated to “new and independent visions for virtual, augmented and mixed realities,” DiMoDA was thinking about VR at a platform level – prototyping how the nascent medium could transform the curation, exhibition, and viewing of digital art. An acronym for ‘Digital Museum of Digital Art,’ the venture was launched by artists Alfredo Salazar-Caro and William Robertson in 2015. Its second iteration, an exhibition called “Morphé Presence” was staged five times in 2016 and the latest version of it opened at the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island in January.