Saturday, July 12th witnessed the opening of The Vordun Museum and Gallery, created and curated by Jake Vordun, the owner of Fancy Decor.
Occupying a large, modern building on one side of the Fancy Decor region, the museum and gallery presents a venue capable of supporting multiple exhibitions, with two art exhibits and a museum exhibition being presented for the opening season. Together they make for a unique and immersive visit.
The first of the art exhibitions is European Masters, 300 Years of Painting, which occupies the main gallery hall. On displays are over 30 paintings from the period 1500 through 1799, all of which are presented in a scale consistent with one another and to their physical world originals. These can be freely perused and admired, title cards alongside of each one offering information on its provenance: artist, title, year of painting, medium and the physical world collection where it current resides.
However, what makes this exhibit unique is that it has an associated experience. On entering the gallery lobby, visitors should be asked to accept the gallery’s experience, smartly scripted by Tangle Giano of Madpea fame (if the dialogue is not displayed, click one of the racks of headsets on the lobby counters). Accepting it will attach a HUD and explanatory note card to your screen. The card can be clicked away once read (and the permissions requested by the experience are automatically revoked and the HUD removed & deleted on leaving the gallery area / teleporting away from the region).
The HUD comprises a numbered keypad and display screen, each of the numbers corresponding to a number displayed in the lower right corner of the title card for 28 of the displayed paintings. When standing in front of one such painting, clicking the corresponding number on the HUD will focus your camera directly on the picture and display additional information (courtesy of Google Culture and Art) in local chat. An audio reading of the same text is also given for those with local sounds enabled, while the provenance information for the painting is displayed in the screen area of the HUD. Once the audio track has finished, control of the camera is released, allowing individual paintings to be more freely admired.
This approach adds considerable immersive depth to the exhibition, offering something of an audio tour of the paintings on display, whilst allowing visitors to freely wander between them in an order of their own choosing.
The paintings themselves are superbly reproduced, and run from portraits of famous figures of the times, through still life scenes, landscapes, allegorical paintings and biblical scenes. All studiously avoid the use of Full Bright, and this coupled with the use of a neutral windlight settings for the region, allows them to be presented in as close to “real world” lighting conditions as possible, further enhancing the immersive feel of the exhibition.
The north wing of the gallery houses the second art exhibition, entitled Lip Service. Running through until September 19th, it features a set of watercolour drawings of female mouth – or specifically lips – by physical world and Second Life artist Celeste Forwzy.
Twelve framed images are presented in the exhibit, and again considerable care has been taken in their presentation. The gallery space is rendering in a neutral white, with a simple wooden floor, with each drawing softly lit through the use of a projected light. The result is and environment ideally suited to focusing one’s attention on the drawings, each of which is extraordinarily attractive.
Across the hall, in the south wing, is A Night To Remember (from the 1958 film of the same name), curated by Emery Milneaux. An interactive exhibition commemorating the loss of RMS Titanic on the night of April 14th 1912, it runs through until October 9th, and is another extraordinary piece.
On entering the exhibition space, visitors are asked to attach a boarding pass to their screen. This bears the name of an actual passenger aboard the Titanic, with the promise that the fate of the passenger will be revealed further into the exhibition. From here, visitors move through a series of rooms which take us through Titanic’s brief history, from construction to loss.
This is told through a richly mixed medium of interactive photos and title cards (click the former to focus your camera on the photo, click the latter to receive further information in chat), together with principal figures from the liner’s story: Commodore Edward Smith, the Titanic’s Captain, socialite Madeleine Astor, first class passenger and survivor, Frederick Fleet, one of the vessel’s lookouts on the fateful night, and a young newspaper boy in London, Ned Parfett. Bump into any of them, and they will present a short “first hand” narrative. There are also reproductions of the ship’s Grand Staircase, together with a first and third class cabin – the latter two starkly outlining the massive class divide of Edwardian society.
However, it is the final gallery of this exhibit which is the most poignant, dealing with the liner’s sinking. In particular, in the final room, three large plaques list the names of every passenger who sailed with the Titanic, together with their fate on the night of April 14th. Through these, visitors can discover the fate of the person named on their boarding pass, adding something of a personal dimension to the exhibition. A fourth plaque commemorates the liner’s crew, 700 of whom (out of 916) lost their lives.
Individually, any one of the exhibitions at The Vordun would be more than worth visiting. Taken together, and a visit becomes a singular experience of many facets, one I have no hesitation in recommending. And I’ve not even covered the gift shop, which offers copies of the drawings, paintings and memorabilia for sale, together with a range of other souvenir items.
My congratulation to Jake and all involved in the project for developing such an outstanding venue. I look forward to making many future visits to The Vordun, and seeing future exhibitions, and the use of capabilities like Experience Keys might be further leveraged.
- The Vordun Museum and Gallery (Rated: Moderate)
With thanks to Kess Crystal for introducing me to Jake.