It’s date night, and that usually means a night out doing something fun together. Maybe experience some art, culture, and expensive wine at the museum. But of course, that’s not happening anytime soon. Everything’s closed. Parks, exhibitions, your favourite eateries.

Some places, however, have looked at new ways to bring that experience into your homes. We’re probably familiar with food delivery services, and simple date nights like Netflix and chilling. But that’s not the focus of this article. Instead, we’re looking at something key to surviving this pandemic — adaptability.

Can we begin to reimagine how we can experience a physical space in an online world?

The Pandemic Picture

Some of you might have heard the bad news that a lot of our beloved museums are being forced to close, and not just temporarily. What’s worse is that they’re not boutique museums either. Unfortunately, some of the more iconic and beloved exhibitions have declared that without government assistance, we could see as much as 30% of these museums fold during this crisis.

It’s difficult for businesses and institutions that rely so heavily on actual foot traffic and ticket sales to move their business parameters online. Even if they did so, the experience wouldn’t be easily mapped over. Before the pandemic even hit us, museums had already begun providing some virtual tours of their exhibitions for free, such as the world famous Musée du Louvre in Paris. Employing the use of 360 degree photos, they’ve allowed visitors to still ‘explore’.

Credits: YouVisit.com

However, we all know the limitations of this experience. It comes nowhere close to an actual gallery visit. There is no walking, no audio tour, no tactility, and certainly no true ambience. In this sense, immersion is compromised.

Reframing the Perspective

We’ve previously looked at ways immersion can bring businesses new avenues to engage their audiences, and it is apparent that physical installations and other typical outdoor activities need to find adaptable ways too.

So let’s look at some innovations that have emerged, that go beyond 360 degree photos, and actually come closer to replicating an exhibition experience from the comfort of one’s home.

a) Shutdown.gallery

Credits: Shutdown Gallery

A big winner in the response to social distancing during the Covid crisis, Shutdown Gallery has created a web-based gallery that utilises a 360 degree experience, but going beyond by making it interactive, supporting mobile gyrosensor tech.

Credits: Shutdown Gallery

This virtual gallery allows a user to fully explore a 3D-rendered gallery. In it, the user can navigate using directional keys and mouse movements to change their perspective in real time. Unlike other 360 galleries, this experience is seamless. Not only does it showcase artworks, it tries to replicate the museum space itself, employing good use of room lighting and well-placed shadows.

To explore it for yourself, you can check them out here.

b) Insurrection, a Photography Series

Credits: Insurrection

Insurrection follows a photojournalist as he explores Iceland in 2017, culminating in this piece on the reality of climate change. Unlike Shutdown Gallery, this mimics closer to an art-photo exhibit.

What’s interesting about this is its ability to tell a story. Much like how exhibitions use multimedia to enhance their physical spaces, this plays out in a similar fashion. You’re able to explore at your own leisure, filled with beautiful soundscapes, and there is a wealth of information at your fingertips.

You can see more of it here. Honestly worth a good amount of your time.

The Next Big Screen

What I’ve shown here are different forms of immersion. It’s of my opinion that businesses should look towards new interactive forms as part of their own brand identity, or their ability to move their campaigns online. Even as business sectors slowly open up again, I don’t believe the situation will revert to a post-Covid climate. The capabilities of the internet need to be maximised, now more than ever.

This is probably just the beginning of us seeing businesses, institutions, and other physical spaces develop ways to make their online presence felt. While the museums I’ve shown today don’t necessarily have a revenue model, and neither are they so ahead of the curve that they can fully replace their physical counterparts, we’re on the cusp of developing what that could look like several years down the line.

So what’s next? For one, we need to find ways for online immersion to be a norm. We’re not that far away from it.

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