Each medium has integrity. Creating within each is like learning to speak its language. Print has parameters, online has templates. Trying to mimic print online is to miss the features and advantages of interaction. It is to ignore the qualities of viewing onscreen. Similarly, to try to mimic any other medium in virtual reality is missing the point. To create within this platform needs the same command of the language as any other. Understanding the characteristics of each platform and integrating them together is a part of the creative process.
Foremost, virtual reality is a visual and audio presentation format—where the viewer is a participant. Being more experiential than any other communication medium, it integrates seamlessly with all: a blog can be accessed easily, websites become resources, FaceBook has a sub-community, and bloggers connect through groups and portals.
Design for each medium is therefore different, though complimentary. Each needs to be used for what it does best. In my career, I have mastered many forms of print, exhibits, books, magazines, websites, blogs, and art. In the past year, I have been learning the platform of virtual reality, which reflects all the media I know put together, placing its own parameters on top. In fact, the more that I know in the real world, the more I have to bring into the virtual one.
So far, here is what I have learned about design to use what a virtual world has to offer that is different from any other medium:
• locations and objects are portals
Nothing is static in the virtual world. The more each click matters, the better will be the communicative response. When a visitor goes to a site, there are signs or objects that can teleport to other locations, give notecards of information, dispense publications and images. Commercially, any object that doesn’t offer the visitor something upon a click is losing a communication opportunity.
• ever changing landscape
Galleries and shops need to hold attention—to encourage repeat visitors. The pace in-world is faster than out-world: each day the sun rises and sets at least for times. To keep attracting visitors back, there needs to be new collections, freebie giveaways, and events to promote.
• multiple locations connect
It took me a while to get used to how I can have the same work of art in more than one show or place at a time. Much like printmaking, it reflects the nature of editions. However, the digital images change the definition of what is an original. Because I can make the file “no copy” and “no transfer,” the owner only purchases one. But for publications that are free, the potential to share is unlimited. It can even go into millions if “viral.”
• interactive involvement
Most websites don’t take advantage of interactivity: they present and that is it. Blogs, on the other hand, are designed to invite participation and use the medium more to advantage. Virtual reality takes participation to another level—one where preferences of the market become very obvious. The more engaging an experience, the more popular it can become.
• bold is good
If a book page from a real life book were to be presented in-world, no one could read it. The elements would be way too small. One page of a print book is the equivalent of four in-world. No where does “less is more” count more than in a world so visually rich.
• modular strategy
There is a big difference between site-specific design versus platform-design. Taking exhibits out of the gallery and into settings means thinking of components that can be grouped and easily adapted.
Learning new things everyday, commanding a new medium takes time. Trying to discover its potential, I continue to experiment. At this point, I know enough to help advance it too.