Avatar artist turns Manchester’s ‘The Factory’ into virtual installation inside Fortnite
Titled ‘Your Progress Will Be Saved’, the installation offers a virtual tour of the OMA-designed building, billed to be a world-class cultural space in the heart of Manchester.
Created by Avatar Artist LaTurbo Avedon, ‘Your Progress Will Be Saved’ is the first commission in a new series titled Virtual Factory from Manchester International Festival (MIF) that invites artists to ‘respond to, reconfigure and play’ with the various elements of The Factory in the lead up to its opening.
Why ‘Your Progress Will Be Saved’? To play with and deconstruct ideas about identity and authorship
Built using Fortnite’s creative mode, the installation grapples with a moment of immateriality, asking users to take part in creating and playing with new artistic forms and experiences.
The minds behind ‘Your Progress Will Be Saved’ – Avatar Artist LaTurbo Avedon
Existing solely online, LaTurbo Avedon is an avatar and artist who explores the growing intensity between users and virtual experiences.
Focusing on the relationship between memories and cyberspace, Avedon works only from the Internet, emphasizing the practice of nonphysical identity.
The artist’s work has appeared internationally and in institutions including The Whitney Museum in New York, the Barbican Center in London, and Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
Their other work includes Panther Modern, a file-based exhibition space that encourages artists to create site-specific installations for the internet.
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Materials & Techniques – Game Design as Digital Art
In exploring the virtual architecture of Fortnite and The Factory simultaneously, ‘Your Progress Will Be Saved’ takes visitors through a world that blurs the lines between game design and digital art.
Wandering through illuminated dance floors and sitting in private booths, the gaming experience takes the user on ‘a constantly evolving journey through shifting spaces’.
Style & Aesthetics – Psychedelic Sci-Fi
LaTurbo’s work plays with and deconstructs ideas about identity with much of ‘Your Progress Will Be Saved’ dealing with mirrors to question distinctions between the real and the virtual world.
Taking cues from traditional video game formats the goal is to collect something – in this case, memories – by finding gleaming objects, approaching and inspecting them.
The installation starts off with a clean and minimal aesthetic similar to a modern art gallery before transforming into a psychedelic scenography with a futuristic colour palette of pink, purple and blue.
Parts of the installation are reminiscent of Travis Scott’s surreal Fortnite event in May – a concert hosted by an avatar of the American rapper that was attended by 12.3 million people.
Flexible digital spaces
Manchester International Festival began developing Virtual Factory in 2019, as part of its pre-Factory program, asking artists to create radical and interdisciplinary work that explores the flexibility of spaces within The Factory and the expanding digital spaces beyond its structure.
To access the installation users can either play on ‘Fortnite,’ take a guided tour of the building with LaTurbo on the festival’s Twitch channel, or choose their own adventure in an adapted journey on the Virtual Factory website.
Design memento – The first of its kind
The Factory is the first major cultural building to be recreated in Fortnite and the first to be launched in virtual space before it opens in the physical world.
This could go some way in building a new benchmark when it comes to the offering of institutions, who haven’t yet capitalised on their digital platforms.
Although Manchester International Festival began developing Virtual Factory before the coronavirus pandemic, this installation and others in the series reflect a time when we are increasingly inhabiting non-physical environments, from social media and virtual reality to live-streamed theatre and videogames.
The writer’s comment – A new sense of value
In recent months, artists, art fairs, and other cultural institutions have made a necessary leap towards digital.
As a result, these kinds of virtual exhibits are becoming especially notable.
Coronavirus might have momentarily canceled an entire way of doing things for contemporary artists, but it also brought attention, the effectiveness of online and new technologies applied to art.
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