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This week, Hauser & Wirth announced its new research and innovation sector, ArtLab. Set to launch on an accelerated schedule in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ArtLab was designed as a solution to issues of accessibility and sustainability and will highlight projects falling at the intersection of art and technology.
For its first initiative, ArtLab will debut a new VR exhibition modeling tool, HWVR. Christening the platform at the end of April will be “taking place,” a virtual exhibition at the gallery’s future location in Menorca, Spain (a space due to open in 2021, and currently being restored by architect Luis Laplace). Bringing together techniques from architecture, construction, and video-game authorship, the resulting HWVR will allow for the creation of true-to-scale digital spaces, built from the ground up.
“Many of the best innovations are driven by necessity. When we created ArtLab and first began developing the HWVR art experience, our primary goal was to develop technology that would help our artists visualize the spaces where their exhibitions would be presented,” said co-president Iwan Wirth. “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.”
Beginning with a research phase 2019, the conception of ArtLab came from the gallery’s mission to reduce its carbon footprint in relation to international exhibitions, allowing global audiences to become fully immersed presentations without the necessity of travel. Along with HWVR, ArtLab has developed software that will upload its entire database of artworks into a 3D archive. The platform will also host a digital residency that allows artists to fully imagine their exhibitions, virtually in 3D.
Furthering its response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Hauser & Wirth’s #artforbetter initiative will also donate 10% of gross profits from all works sold during virtual exhibitions to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.