We investigate 1-OK Club’s latest exhibition, and the pros and cons of the virtual exhibition. Ben Morgan writes.
July 8th, 2016
It’s a conundrum as old as online shopping itself – how can we truly know what it’s like to hold and use a product when all we have to go on is a static image on a 2D screen? While viable virtual reality and 3D technologies are still yet to crack the mainstream, a group of Australian designers are using currently available technologies to develop new ways of understanding products.
In what would best be described as an ambitious experiment – and where would design be without such things – the 1-OK CLUB has pushed the limits of exhibition design (and Melbourne’s internet speeds) by creating a ‘virtual exhibition’, live-streaming revolving design/art pieces to the world from an unoccupied warehouse space in the inner-city suburb of Clifton Hill. The works are presented on a large ‘lazy Susan’, with each product itself placed on an individual spinning disc, creating a multi-angle viewing experience.
. According to 1-OK CLUB founder and the organiser of WORKS 44-52 LIVE, Dale Hardiman, the exhibition aims to “not only commission limited edition and one-off designed objects, as explored in our past exhibition WORKS 1-43, but to explore the way in which objects are presented.
“We had previously spoken a lot about presenting work internationally through shows appropriate to the project, but as an entirely self-funded project it was not viable, so our alternative was for the work to stay in the same location but be broadcast to the world.”
The nine works on display are by both emerging and established designers and studios:
Adam Goodrum (Sydney)
Ash Allen (Melbourne)
Elliat Rich (Alice Springs)
Elliott Mackie (Melbourne)
Flynn Talbot Studio (London)
MANY MANY (Melbourne & Zurich)
Peter Trimble (Melbourne)
Simone LeAmon (Melbourne)
Some standout pieces include a fully functional stool made from recycled styrofoam – an exciting exploration of simple solutions to waste – by Peter Trimble; Adam Goodrum’s ceramic bowl, ‘Echo’, looking at “the broken and imperfect objects, discarded by the maker”; and U-P’s Card Table, which presents the design through a creative video concept ‘A Space for Solitude’.
Tools such as 360° photography are being employed by many galleries and collections-based organisations and retailers to help give armchair explorers a fuller picture of physical objects. When exploring the exhibition concept for WORKS 44-52 LIVE 1-OK CLUB looked at initiatives such as Moooi’s 360 panorama view during Salone Del Mobile, The National Gallery in London’s virtual tour, Örnsbergsauktionen’s live stream of their auction this year, and Sagmeister & Walsh live broadcast of their studio on their website.
As a relatively low-tech alternative, WORKS 44-52 LIVE, offers a glimpse of how designers and artists can better engage with a global audience. Perhaps the most exciting element of this project – apart from the high calibre of the works – is the video by U-P. Using a ‘mood piece’ the video achieves something far more powerful. It shows a person interacting with the product, but it also creates a story, and an emotional connection/response.
As a prototype, the exhibition will undoubtedly lead to further exploration by 1-OK CLUB into how physical products and limited-edition design-art pieces can be exhibited and sold to a dispersed, yet engaged, marketplace. “We understand that presenting objects almost entirely digitally means there is no connection with humans, therefore providing no sense of use. Through the next presentation we want to allow users to freely interact with the objects as if they’re their own.”
In reality, this is the biggest hurdle for online design and design-art exhibitions (which often rely on sales to justify costs). It’s why Apple still spends billions of dollars on bricks-and-mortar stores – people want to see and touch a product and develop an emotional connection with a brand or product before clicking ‘buy now’.
With 1-OK CLUB’s willingness to invest in and explore new cost-effective ways to present limited-edition design, we’re likely to see some exciting solutions for designers and artist to reach their global audiences. And no doubt, as 3D and VR technologies become more readily available, we’ll see these designers experimenting further and pushing the boundaries.
The exhibition is available to view online until 15th July.
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