Back in 2013, when access to virtual reality equipment rendered the knowledge gap between professors and students all but negligible, artist Alfredo Salzar-Caro, then a fledgling student himself, began to envision what a virtual house made for digital natives could look like. Within its walls, he pictured, would contain the Stargates of his dreams, each portaling out to wonderlands of his creation, of course, but also to realms devised by intrepid others from his international, underground milieu.
And thus the Digital Museum of Digital Art came to be: a virtual edifice forged in Unity and animated by a blinking constellation of Internet downloads around the world. The current mission statement describes DiMoDA as the “preeminent virtual institution devoted to digital/New Media art,” proceeding to suggest that the structure itself is an “architectural contribution to the Internet’s virtual landscape.”
The better part of DiMoDA’s operation involves collecting digital artwork and commissioning new ones, counting the likes of Jacolby Satterwhite, Claudia Hart, and Brenna Murphy in its growing roster. When fortune strikes, DiMoDA also organizes the occasional salon.
This Thursday, for example, DiMoDA minted its latest commissions with a public opening at the 3-Legged Dog in New York’s Financial District. Under Salazar-Caro’s curatorial prompt, the projects aim to conjure “witchcraft, magic, simultaneity, and the virtual body.”
Acquainted readers should decide for themselves whether the twin shows, “New Talismans” and “Mind//Body Dualism,” delivered on their promise, but it’s worth noting that DiMoDA 3.0 boasts the combined output of artists Rindon Johnson, Morehshin Allahyari, Paul Hertz, Shane Mecklenburger, Korakrit Arunanondchai, and Vicki Dang.
That DiMoDA’s holdings can be accessed remotely is just one of the distinguishing characteristics to rally industry support. Notable among them is the Whitney Museum’s Adjunct Curator of New Media Art, Christiane Paul, who is slated to organize DiMoDA’s fourth round of commissions next year.
With north of three decades of experience in the field, Paul is skeptical—of both the medium’s long-term viability, and of the technology’s limitations, too, maintaining that artists working in VR art today are hardly exempt from the headaches that hampered artists in the past.
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