Is the Metaverse – key to online digital art galleries – thriving?
Culture, X-Article

Is the Metaverse – key to online digital art galleries – thriving?

Article brought to you by the SOPRG gallery operating in Somnium Space metaverse – on behalf of the gallery – Milan & Gustavo.

One of the big takeaways from the so-called “crypto winter” is that NFTs for a large part still don’t have a clear use case (except for high utility NFTs in Somnium Space that is) that makes sense to a wider audience. A clear exception is art. NFTs have proven to be very useful because it is a good way to ensure that the artist gets credited with being an artwork’s creator. And it is also a way for people to be credited with the ownership of an asset, making it a lot easier to start collecting art. But this is already a known fact. What’s important here is that new businesses can emerge adjacent to NFT art. It makes sense that online digital art galleries make inroads into NFTs. It is also logical for them to start a metaverse operation to reproduce the traditional art gallery experience, only this time in a virtual setting.

In a way, this always was going to make sense. The Internet is a vast accumulation of content, and social media has allowed creators of that content to acquire an audience and community through non-traditional means. The issue here is that monetization has come through advertisement. It was difficult for artists to thrive here as it was a case of producing content to let people know about the art. In short, there was an extra step. Physical art was (and still is) bought through non-digital means in a mainly digital environment. Influencers were the types of creators that gained the most from this ecosystem. Having a digital place where people go for art and content is a good way to start the metaverse adoption. Meanwhile, artists can get value in exchange for the art they produce. And so, it might stand to reason that online digital art galleries start to go there. It’s a process that’s already begun.

The truth is that physical reality can’t be replaced, so physical art galleries and museums will keep existing. However, the digital space has none of the constraints that the physical world has. You can create unique events and experiences in these places.

The technical possibilities are almost limitless in virtual worlds. You can have moving digital statues on display or play with text which could appear in 3D alongside those viewing the artworks. The NFT art gallery can be arranged in all sorts of ways. Online digital art galleries should be alert to these trends and try not to stay behind. Instead, look to experiment alongside artists who can now help shape the space.

Will online digital art galleries have a metaverse gallery as a default feature?

It’s difficult not to envision a world where art galleries and the metaverse are not fused. Especially as more people start to dip their toes. Think of the possibilities that arise from the fact that, for example, Somnium Space allows monetization of the space in which you host events through ads. And that’s not even counting the potential sales of NFT art.

Another tenet of Somnium Space is that it is a social world. A world where people can have meaningful interactions. And thus, digital online art galleries can become the place where discussions between artists and their audiences take place. Which is a move away from the e-commerce-only paradigm seen in some online art galleries. You can have meaningful interactions among users instead of them being scattered around as they buy art.

So it is in this situation that one might have to consider a future where art galleries that have a metaverse parcel to show artworks aren’t distinctive. They are just keeping up with a new technological standard. Indeed, some forces are pressuring the arts to delve deeper and deeper into the blockchain, first, and then the metaverse.

Why is the metaverse a distinctive advantage over e-commerce for online digital art galleries?

An art exposition is a very different experience from a shopping experience. What is being shown is not a commodity, but a piece of art that is irreplaceable and unique. So much so, the exposition itself can be a way to enhance the art. This is uniquely true to a metaverse to setting, in which people can customize the space and the exhibit. With NFT art being such a clear use case for the metaverse, online digital art galleries might have to leap out of sheer necessity. A different case might be if you were a retail business owner, where the need to offer a metaverse experience might not be so obvious.

The metaverse offers a wide array of options (limited only by creativity) to display the NFT art a gallery might have. This contrasts heavily with the shop window experience that e-commerce-focused art galleries offer their users. You could even argue that this is barely an art gallery.

An example of what a modern art gallery looks like is what SOPRG is doing in its parcel in the Somnium Space metaverse. If you go to this Czech art gallery’s parcel, you will have access to the artworks that they sell in a way that favors aesthetic and artistic contemplation. Also, it is a space where they host events. There have been curated exhibitions by specific artists, as well as the auction of the first NFT by the Czech National Theatre. Indeed, there is a lot of promise in the metaverse for online digital art galleries. But soon enough, we might find that being in the metaverse will be commonplace in the NFT art space.

Artwork by Jiří Školník

January 19, 2023

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