As art businesses are expanding their virtual offerings in response to the pandemic, Swiss-based contemporary and modern art gallery Hauser & Wirth has announced its new research and innovation arm ArtLab. The programme will develop "bespoke technological solutions" for pressing issues in the art world, including accessibility and reducing the carbon footprint associated with mounting exhibitions globally.
Among them are a digital residency programme at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles for artists and their teams, as well as a custom-built virtual reality (VR) modelling tool called HWVR.
This technology draws from techniques applied in the fields of architecture, construction and video gaming, and builds virtual 3D spaces from the ground up at a pixel level.
"When we created ArtLab and first began developing the HWVR art experience, our primary goal was to develop technology that would help our artists visualise the spaces where their exhibitions would be presented," said Iwan Wirth, the gallery's co-founder, in a statement.
"Given the current situation, with so many in essential self-isolation, we are accelerating the launch of ArtLab's programs with a new approach to virtual reality exhibitions that can engage as many people as possible and bring them together while we're all apart," he added.
HWVR will be used to present Hauser & Wirth's debut VR exhibition, which will open at a yet-unknown date in April.
Details about the exhibit are still scarce to this date, although it will take place in a virtual rendering of the mega-gallery's future location in Menorca, Spain.
The new outpost is designed by Luis Laplace and is expected to open as an artist residency and added exhibition space in 2021.
Additionally, ArtLab has also developed a new software to convert Hauser & Wirth's database of artworks into 3D assets.
These works will be offered for sale during the gallery's inaugural VR exhibition, with 10% of the profits going to the World Health Organization's Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Hauser & Wirth launched ArtLab a few days after Gagosian announced a new digital series to invite individual artists to use its online channels as an open platform.
"Artist Spotlight" will highlight one artist each week and present a single artwork along with pricing information on the gallery's website for a 48-hour period.
Participating artists include Sarah, Sze, Stanley Whitney, Jennifer Guidi, Roe Ethridge, Titus Kaphar, Katharina Grosse, Theaster Gates, Dan Colen, Urs Fischer, Mark Grotjahn, Mary Weatherford, Rudolf Polanszky, Damien Hirst and Jenny Saville. - AFP