Biennale in the Metaverse. By Art Gate

Since 2019, Art Gate VR offers a key to artists, gallerists, curators, collectors, to be present in VR and meet new people globally in an instant.
If you haven’t visited the platform, you should head over to try it out.
Art Gate VR is one of the first museums (or platforms) in VR where galleries can host events, curate exhibitions, promote artists, meet collectors, and in general do business.
The advantages of being present in VR become obvious for both galleries and artists: you can meet people around the world, represent artists from any corner, you don’t have to spend money on travels, expensive leasing, or to ship artworks from one country to another just for a one-time presentation.
Add to this a community of artists, gallerists, curators, technologists. And when it comes to foot traffic, visitors, the app is free and you are able to enjoy artworks from literally all over the world. With an intuitive design and menu navigation system, moving around is quite easy with either the help of a controller or through teleportation, and you can choose your avatar’s color – and it is literally funny to see so many “colorful people” around!

Every year, Art Gate VR hosts a big community event with and previously with speakers from all over the world. But now, they are raising the bars and are determined to organise The Biennale in the Metaverse, (The Meta Biennale 2021) and promise an exciting program with panels, discussions, networking, and of course… parties! So don’t forget to include November 18th 7:00 pm EST in your calendar

We’ve talked with Brendon McNaughton, Co-Founder and CEO of Art Gate VR, about how the idea was carved, how the space developed so fast in such a short time, what were the challenges, and in general why he thinks the future of the artworld includes VR/ Metaverse.

Brendon McNaughton: Actually, most people know me as a contemporary artist(http://mcnaughtonstudios.com/) there is still a lot of international attention for making these large scale bronze marble and aluminum sculptures. I was planning to exhibit them all over the world, which was really-really exciting. So, I was often through North America, Europe, exhibitions in Venice or Asia.

As I started to move more internationally, I realised how inaccessible the art world really was, unless you can afford flights to different continents to be at the international art fairs. And then also, since my sculptures were these big marble and heavy sculptures, it became very obvious how inefficient it was to be moving large scale sculptures to different continents on a regular basis.
So, I was talking to one of my really close friends Justin O’Heir (now, the Technical Co-Founder), and he suggested: “Well, why don’t we put the artwork in VR, and then collectors in Europe can look at the artwork in VR, and they don’t have to fly in order to see it?”.

We put one artwork into virtual reality and we showed it to a few people and they absolutely loved it. I was excited about it, so I asked him if he could put another one. And then artists start emailing us to put their artwork in VR.
As such, we started to build out a system that allowed people to upload their artwork into VR easily. After that, it started snowballing.
That’s how we’re getting started.
It was the problem of how inefficient moving artwork around the world was, and the solution was to put it into VR and then anyone in the world can put on the headset and walk through, and look at the artwork.

TVA: Definitely from the artist point of view, it is efficient because you can upload your artwork and more people can see your works – buyers, visitors, etc. In many cases, unless you are a collector, you don’t go to these international fairs…It seems an elegant solution for galleries, collectors and visitors as well.

Brendon McNaughton: Yes, for galleries point of view as well it is nice because they can just upload the artworks, and then it shows up in virtual reality, without any coding that so it’s really easy to open up the gallery and set up an exhibition.
The really nice thing about the foot traffic: people that walk through your space can be from any continent.
I’ve been in a room where there’s a collector from Hong Kong, a collector from Belgium, a collector from New York, all in the same room, wearing their headsets. And the only way that that would happen in the physical world is with hours of international flights in order to make that meeting happen.
It really just breaks down borders and makes geography irrelevant.
Even for ultra-wealthy art collectors, it still takes time to fly from one continent to the next. Whereas in the Metaverse, you could easily go from one job to the next, on different continents, in a matter of minutes.
If you really want to go internationally, this is the easiest way.
One of the things we set up in Art Gate VR is that we created a social space.
Everything is set up so that people can connect with other people, you can shake hands and talk with people. I’ve seen bloggers talking with dealers from different countries, and they build a relationship from going to events in the Metaverse together, and based on that relationship, their artwork starts being shipped around the world.
That sense of connection that exists in the real world, happens in the metaverse as well.

TVA: I have to admit that when I first entered Art Gate VR, I was expecting less people, but then people just kept coming….2, 3 and it was really crowded…. It was unexpected!

Brendon McNaughton: If you come when there’s a big event that’s happening in Art Gate VR, there can be sometimes hundreds of people in a room, and when you’re in there, it’s amazing. It feels like you’re actually out at a social event.
I have to say, during the shutdowns that happened, my work internationally has expanded rapidly. And my social life has been very, very rich, because I’m talking with people and connecting with people and building relationships with all people from all over the world and it all takes place through a VR headset, or if you go on to the laptop version of our game.
So, I’m still very busy, even though I don’t fly around the world anymore.

TVA: You said in the beginning that you started with artists, but now, I have noticed there are a lot of galleries… So galleries are the main target, or both artists and galleries?

When we started there were a lot of artists that were putting works in, because it was this exciting new idea. But, after a while, everyone started realising quite quickly that in VR it’s exactly like a gallery in the real world.
If you find this beautiful gallery location in New York, and you open up a space, you have to tell everyone that the gallery exists, curate exhibitions, build a community around the gallery and engage with people. And that’s the role that a gallery plays in the real world. That is the same in VR.
And galleries started to hear about it and they came in and started representing artists in the metaverse. Usually, galleries will negotiate with an artist, which geographic area they represent. Now they’re talking about the geographic area of the metaverse where they represent artists.

If you have a gallery in New York, have you thought that you would like to open a location in Europe, and a location in Asia, so you had an international reach? You would have to find your space, make a lease with the landlord for the space and you will have a huge overhead cost and all the international logistics you need to be aware of.
Or…. you can open up a space in the metaverse! Now we have that international reach, and it’s just exponentially more economical to do it in the metaverse than the “brick and mortar” world.

Chase Chandler | Composer /

“In Essence” is an experimental, immersive piano performance for Art Gate’s opening event.

We have an infinite space that we can offer to people. This is still a very early stage Metaverse in Art Gate that’s being built right now, but down the road I see a day when there’s millions of people that are out at these events.

So, it is predominantly commercial galleries that we work with at this point. There are some entrepreneurial artists that open up a space, and manage their space, as well as make their artwork. There are some institutions that are in the picture, too.

TVA: So, how international is Art Gate now…?

Brendon McNaughton: We have galleries from all continents. It’s really interesting how this started because some of our earliest adopters of our platform were from Europe, and then from Asia, even though we’re based in North America. It’s really interesting that even in the early days it was international!

TVA: What was interesting for me, when you are doing these big events, it is kind of a “network effect” – it is a benefit for all galleries involved. For example, I just wanted to see one event, but then I ended up going to 3-4 events. So, I guess, from one event done by a gallery or a community event, all the others are benefiting…

Brendon McNaughton: If I had a gallery, and I was hosting an event, that’s great. And if I have a gallery, and I’m hosting an event during the Venice Biennale, when all these other galleries are hosting events all at the same time that you have people from all over the world flying out to Venice, they’ll go to the other events around as well.
So the community coming together and really letting people know what’s happening in the Metaverse is a huge benefit for everybody involved.

TVA: Hosting events and exhibitions in VR will become more and more of a trend (it is global, and more cost-efficient as you already mentioned).
Do you think that big international fairs and events will go away at a certain point or we will have both?

Brendon McNaughton: I always think that they’re gonna run in parallel. But, these international art fairs, where really, it’s just a concentration of a small group of people that are sharing their artwork. There’s a lot of parts of the world that don’t participate in these so-called international events, like many, many countries throughout Africa, and through Asia and the Middle East.
It’s predominantly because of the economics of it: to participate in the Venice Biennale is extremely expensive for a nation to open up a Pavilion and do all the work around it.
So that’s why there is a very low representation of the nations, in Africa, in these international events.
Whereas the barrier to entry, brought down, accessibility is brought up, if it’s less money to participate, then they will allow more people to participate and really an international global dialogue would be possible to take place.

TVA: What were your biggest challenges when you started building Art Gate VR?

Brendon McNaughton: Yeah, there’s, there’s always challenges…
In the beginning, it was just getting the artwork. Then, it was getting people to come in, and then now it’s struggling to figure out how to scale up the technology to deal with all the people coming in.
It’s just an endless cycle of new challenges that comes along. It’s not like one thing, it’s just a lot of little challenges along the way.
I think that this is that endless list of things to work on and improve.
Sometimes it gets hard to look at, but we just keep on crossing things off the list, and it’s just baby steps towards making it better and better and better.
For me, I have a clear idea of what the Metaverse can be and what ArtGate VR district can be, it exists in my mind right now. And we’re working towards getting there.
Sometimes it’s challenging to see it not be aligned with what I can see.
So, yes…. it’s like the ultimate sculpture, you have this idea of what the piece is going to be in the end, and it takes a very long amount of continuous effort in order to bring that dream to reality.

TVA: So, don’t forget! The Meta Biennale 2021 is coming soon, BOOK your dates in your calendar– between November 18th, 2021 and December 19th.
The organisers promise a party, panels, debates, and of course…. you can enjoy arts. And yes, conversations, networking, and meeting new people and old friends.
The agenda is still guarded even for TechVangArt, but we promise… that as soon as something appears we will find out 🙂

If you would like to establish a gallery in the Art Gate district to show your collection and connect easily with clients (remember: no, you don’t need to code for that 🙂 you can apply easily

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ABOUT ART GATE

Art Gate was started with a simple idea; that it should be easier to access international art events, regardless of physical location.
We see a world where galleries are filled with art lovers from around the globe, experiencing art and connecting with each other.
We see exhibition openings and events attended by visitors from many continents, gathered together in a virtual room talking, learning, and sharing ideas around art. This is a world of greater cultural exchange, understanding, and appreciation.

This world exists today, and you join by putting on a VR headset.

For more details, please visit https://www.artgatevr.com/