Museum of Virtual Art II, the collaborative experimental museum (from the minds of Nicholas Zhu, Parallax Visions, & more) is now open! Download here! MOVA is a first person multiplayer gallery featuring the work of digital artists from a multitude of locations around the world. Catch the party online here , April 29th @ 9PM CDT.
Experience the gallery and chat with other patrons in the link here. We spoke to artist/programmer Michael Bordlee of Parallax Visions about the conception and formation of MOVA:
What were the inspirations behind MOVA II?
Michael Bordlee: Ever since the release of MOVA I, we intended Museum of Virtual Art to be a perpetual project. When I first saw Nick Zhu’s announcement that he was making a virtual museum in Unity, I knew I should get involved, since I have experience using Unity for making indie games with my group Parallax Visions. MOVA I was a great success, and it immediately sparked the interest of other artists who wanted to get involved.
MB: Nick wanted to simulate a realistic first-person museum experience in MOVA I, so the movement was limited by gravity and object collision (the inability to walk through walls and objects).
MB: There were a few other limitations too. There was no way to view the artist statements in the museum itself, so it was impossible to know the author of a piece without leaving the application. After the release of MOVA 1, we planned on addressing these limitations and implementing new ideas in the next incarnation, MOVA II. MOVA II is a virtual museum meant to embrace the digital nature of our art and explore the possibilities of virtual art. Nick passed me the torch and charged me with the duty of spearheading MOVA II. Nick also recruited Noah Harris to help me remotely in the same way that I helped Nick. Noah is an incredibly talented programmer, and MOVA II wouldn’t be half of what it is without him.
Are there any progressions or differences between this new incarnation of MOVA and the previous installment?
Yes, Noah and I added a lot of functionality. First of all, the Museum has no gravity and no object collision. You fly around and view the museum as a floating camera. We think this viewing system is most conducive to experiencing digital art, because you can inspect every angle of the pieces, near and far.
You can also view the artist statements in the museum. By pressing the space bar the artist statement catalog pops up. You can flip through the statements and teleport straight to an artist’s exhibit by pressing the “Teleport to Exhibit” button. We want to create a more beautiful space for our artists to showcase their digital art, away from the soul-crushing toxicity that Facebook breeds.
The most ambitious feature of MOVA II by far is the multiplayer aspect. We wanted to add a social aspect of the museum, because we believe art can be a powerful tool to bring people together. At the beginning of the app, you create a user name and choose one of three avatars, which are all orb cameras that look like eyeballs. Players are represented by the orb they chose with their name displayed above it. To speak with another player, press enter, type a message, and the text will appear over your avatar’s head. All nearby players can read the message. We believe this adds a level of intimacy to the interaction. We didn’t want a glorified chat room cluttering up the screen, which could potentially be spammed, detracting from the beauty and purpose of the museum. The fact that you need to be physically close to someone to talk to them adds a level of intimacy to the experience. Talking to another player in the museum feels special. I had some conversations with people in the Museum that I’ve talked to on Facebook hundreds of times before, and there was a level of intimacy I felt that conventional social media lacks.
Do you find significance with making the museum a first-person experience over traditional methods of experience? We always thought the MOVA should be a first-person experience, because we want people to feel like they’re actually present in the museum. We believe first-person simulations lend themselves to full immersion. We want people to see the art through their own eyes with as little distractions as possible. We think that a first-person experience creates a sense of space and atmosphere. We want people to feel like they’re actually in The Museum of Virtual Art. The developers of MOVA are not curators. We are public servants.
What will be at the party? lol
Virtual hangouts are nothing new. The main goal of MOVA II multiplayer is to give people a beautiful social space that is made by them and for them. I scheduled the MOVA II Party, because there is rarely more than one player logged on at a time. Our player base is small and spread out across the world, and the museum is open 24/7; so, there’s really no impetus for people to log on at the same time. The MOVA II Party is a reason to get everyone in the museum at the same time, so we can celebrate together. Art is supposed to bring people together. IRL museums have exhibitions that are social events where people gather, so the MOVA II Party is our social exhibition. We will celebrate the release of our virtual museum by partying over the internet together. Our bodies will be in different time zones across the world, but our minds and hearts will be in the virtual art space that we all created together.
Catch the MOVA II Party Online tonight, April 29th, 9PM CDT online here: https://www.facebook.com/events/154132735119529/
Download the Museum of Virtual Art here:
MOVA III is also having an open call! Contact the MOVA Facebook Group, Nick Zhu or Michael Bordlee for more inquiries.