The World (Virtual) Photography Day
Most Virtual Photographers have personal experience with the controversy involving virtual photography, especially the Second Life community. Over the years, group after group in Flickr would announce in their description, “we accept all photos EXCEPT Second Life photos.” Photo purists still don’t recognize Virtual Photography as an artform, but it’s hard to argue against the many millions of incredible in-game photos that literally flood the photo world now.
About this time last year, Flickr introduced its category for “Virtual Photography.” Just two years prior, I recall being belittled by a Flickr employee saying, “It’s NOT real!” But as virtual photogs grow in number, I guess Flickr decided that there’s simply no denying it anymore.
“Although it is hard to trace exactly where it started, games with photo mode began cropping up around 2015, allowing players to take pictures inside a video game world,” says John Alexander Hitchcock of GameRant.com. Gamers in other platforms are a bit behind Second Life in terms of photographic quality, but over the past eight years or so they have come to dominate the modern art of video game photography by the sheer amount of people doing it. Some of their photos, as in Second Life, are simply to catalog in-game memories. But over the past few years, there has been an absolute explosion of artistic screen captures. With dazzling and hyper-realistic graphics and a little bit of know-how, art is the inevitable outcome.
For me, the emergence of gaming photography speaks to the importance of art — and the act of creating art — as a vital human need. We inherently desire to create, and virtual photography, sometimes called capture art, is widely accessible. If someone has a computer and a game account, artistic expression without a lot of formal training and commitment is possible.
As social creatures, we also have the fundamental desire to share our creations. Social media is bursting with gamers sharing and tagging their art for others to see and “like.” For reference, there are over 180 million active players in Minecraft of all ages. Steam has 120 million monthly active users, and 62.6 million people use Steam on a daily basis, says Backlinko. Steam is the gateway to most of the popular games like The Witcher, Elder Scrolls, Star Wars, Beyond the Horizon, Assassin’s Creed and so many more. The photography coming from these games is pretty incredible.
So, what to do on World Photography Day?
Real life photographers are continually (and justifiably) threatened by the lifelike images that are created in-game, as well as the staggeringly realistic AI image creator like Midjourney. Ironically, Midjourney and others like it pull from their massive databank filled with real-life photographers’ stock images. But that’s a story for another day!
Should World Photography Day be shared with virtual photographers? Mike Bromley of TheFourthFocus, a virtual photography blog, says, “In fact the creative potential of photography is almost limitless, and the digital art of virtual photography should be seen as a natural extension of it. The light and subjects may be computer generated but the artistry is the same. Both are about capturing unique and compelling images that engage the viewer and convey messages more powerful than words alone ever could.”
The World Photography Day is a celebration of art, and as such, virtual photography should be included. Though, while the day August 19 marks the day in 1839 that Louis Daguerre sold his daguerreotype to the French government, sparking the concept of photography for all to enjoy, virtual photographers may be relegated to celebrating their art on August 20 to avoid a backlash from real life photographers. But no matter. There is no quelling the passion of these millions of artists and their craving to be seen!
I came across a handy website that I think people will really enjoy knowing about. And it’s free! There is a paid version too with a few extra perks, but from what I can tell they aren’t necessary to create a basic gallery.
It’s called ArtSteps, and the reason I came across this site is because I have an SL friend who is also an artist in RL. She wanted to show her SL photography, as well as her RL photography, to people outside SL, but didn’t want to just pass along her Flickr address. She wanted to show just a few specific photos. She wanted it to look professional, like a gallery in SL, but easily accessed by anyone with internet access.
I came across ArtSteps.com and it did the job perfectly. You can choose between a few free gallery options, upload your pics to your private account, and voila! You have a virtual gallery!
Using it was a little confusing at first. You “walk” along the gallery by clicking a footsteps icon on the floor. Click ahead of where you want to go, and your viewer takes you there. I also used my arrow keys, which is easier for me on a laptop, after clicking the floor the first time. Also, to place photos on the walls, click one of your pics and it attaches to a canvas on your pointer. Once you place it on any wall or surface other than a window. Also, there are a few 3D objects you can used to decorate the space.
Angela set up a virtual gallery with a few of the photos from our featured artist, Sorcha Tyles, so you can see how easy it is. What a great way to share a few chosen photos with those who don’t have an SL account without having to share your entire Flickr account. And “walking” through the gallery is very similar to walking with mouselook in SL. To view the virtual gallery, you can visit it here.
If you have some time to wander, there are other’s exhibits from ALL around the world. There are several schools and universities, cultural centres, and personal and political exhibits too. It’s fun to share our own art, but it’s also fun to explore others if only to remind ourselves of the diversity and magnitude of humanity and the human experience of life.
The Significance and Impact of Virtual Art
This month Focus on Ideas looks at the significance and impact of virtual work art. From photography to music and from motion capture animations to virtual landscaping, virtual worlds like Second Life have a significant impact on many kinds of artistic expression. Indeed, the metaverse provides unique opportunities for artists and other denizens of virtuality to interact with art, experience immersive creations, and explore new forms of artistic expression. Along with economic impact, Second Life and other virtual environments have impacted art in ways related to innovation, accessibility, and collaboration.
Virtual worlds have their own internal economies that allow artists to sell their virtual creations or services. This can provide artists with new revenue streams and opportunities for monetizing beyond the traditional art market. The economic aspects of virtual world art revolve around the creation and commercialization of digital art. The rise of virtual art experiences, like in-world art galleries, burlesque dance productions, and virtual filmmaking (called “machinima”), have further expanded the possibilities for artists to thrive in the virtual world art market.
So, we see that the business aspects of virtual art encompass a wide range of activities that have expanded the commercial opportunities within virtual worlds. These activities can have long-term effects on democratizing art by offering low-cost or free tools for artists to create and display their work. This lowers barriers to entry for emerging artists and helps them gain exposure without the need for expensive physical galleries or studio spaces. As virtual worlds continue to evolve, the economic landscape of virtual art is likely to grow and diversify further, presenting new opportunities and challenges for artists, collectors, and businesses alike.
Speaking of new opportunities, virtual spaces challenge artists to adapt their traditional skills to a digital environment. The necessity for innovation often leads to the development of new techniques and technologies in the art world. Virtual environs also break down the limitations of physical media and allow artists to create in new ways. Artists can construct 3D sculptures, build interactive installations, design virtual performances, and experiment with dynamic and interactive elements that are not possible in traditional art forms. Really, virtual worlds can serve as a source of inspiration for artists, offering them a wealth of new ideas, perspectives, and styles shared with creators within the virtual community.
Some artists in virtual worlds also innovate through offering educational workshops, tutorials, or classes about art creation and design. These opportunities also provide an additional source of income for artists while sharing knowledge and fostering community engagement.
Virtual worlds are accessible to people worldwide with an internet connection. This global reach provides artists with a platform to showcase their work to a diverse and international audience, expanding their visibility and opportunities for appreciation.
Collaborating with other artists, creators, and designers creates unique art installations, promotional events, or marketing campaigns. These partnerships can lead to increased exposure for the artists. Virtual worlds also host various events and exhibitions that can be incubators for further collaboration. These include art shows, festivals, performances, and events where dozens of business owners come together under one roof. Artists and builders can participate in these events to showcase their work to a larger audience and gain recognition.
Fostering collaboration, virtual worlds enable artists to work together on large-scale projects, exhibitions, or immersive presentations. This collaborative aspect often leads to the synthesis of different artistic styles and ideas, thus resulting in new and innovative creations.
Virtual worlds enable artists to work together on large-scale projects, exhibitions, or immersive presentations. This collaborative aspect often leads to the synthesis of different artistic styles and ideas, thus resulting in new and innovative creations. To sum things up, art becomes an experience rather than something you just look at in the virtual setting. Second Life and other virtual worlds such as Open Sim offer the opportunity to interact with and explore art. It can often blur the lines between the observer and the creator. This interactive aspect adds a new layer of engagement and participation, making the art more immersive and memorable. By expanding the possibilities for artistic expression, facilitating collaboration, reaching a global audience, and challenging artists to explore innovative ways of creating and presenting their work, some have called the impact of virtual artistry revolutionary. And as technology continues to advance, the impact of virtual worlds on art is likely to evolve even further.
To sum things up, art becomes an experience rather than something you just look at in the virtual setting. Second Life and other virtual worlds such as Open Sim offer the opportunity to interact with and explore art. It can often blur the lines between the observer and the creator. This interactive aspect adds a new layer of engagement and participation, making the art more immersive and memorable. By expanding the possibilities for artistic expression, facilitating collaboration, reaching a global audience, and challenging artists to explore innovative ways of creating and presenting their work, some have called the impact of virtual artistry revolutionary. And as technology continues to advance, the impact of virtual worlds on art is likely to evolve even further.