As galleries close worldwide, an art world insider is launching a timely new extended reality platform. Vortic offers galleries customisable virtual gallery spaces to show their art using virtual and augmented reality technology.
Vortic’s founder Oliver Miro, son of art dealer Victoria Miro, wanted to find a way for collectors to visualise a work to scale in their own homes without having to physically ship it around the world. The idea came after he shipped a Yayoi Kusama painting from Japan to London and New York, back to London, and then to Hong Kong, before the collector decided that it wasn’t right for them. “I was thinking, ‘How could we put that in front of someone in Hong Kong that avoids that having to happen?’” says Miro.
The platform has been in development for the past three years. Vortic Curate, the main service, is a subscription-based service for galleries to create virtual exhibitions. High-resolution 3D-scanning technology is used to photogrammetrically capture a physical gallery space. Dealers can then choose whether to replicate their existing hangings or to create XR-only exhibitions within the space, which includes the capacity to create custom exhibitions tailored to specific collectors.
There is also the option for galleries to mount exhibitions in a generic virtual gallery space as, “at a time like this it is tricky because we can’t actually go to the physical gallery spaces to scan them”, says Miro. Similarly, in lieu of having access to scanning individual works, these are being reproduced based on high-resolution images. “It is an exciting way to keep collectors engaged until we are all back in action.”
The client-facing sides of the platform are two apps, Vortic Collect and Vortic VR. Vortic Collect is an AR app available for smartphones and tablets through which collectors can virtually attend private views, art fair previews, and bespoke exhibitions. They will also be able to make direct enquiries with the galleries, and place works using augmented reality to see how they would look in their own homes. For the optimal experience, Vortic VR is the virtual reality version of the app that allows audiences to fully immerse themselves in the digital exhibitions through VR. The app is supported by Oculus headsets, and will allow audiences to explore exhibitions in 3D from any angle.
The full capacity of the platform will be showcased in its first exhibition, a co-presentation of artists from David Zwirner and Victoria Miro that was initially intended to be shown at Art Basel Hong Kong, which includes Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Stan Douglas, Chris Ofili, and Alice Neel.
While the full cost of the service will vary depending on the gallery, Miro estimates that scanning a large gallery space will be around £12,000 ($13,800), after which the gallery would pay a monthly subscription fee. Vortic will offer the first three months to galleries for free, including a one-month demo.