“Give us a 3-by-3-meter space, and we can install your VR artwork in your home,” said Nedvetskaia of Khora Contemporary. “The challenge is the novelty of the medium itself and the fear of the unknown. Yet a collector familiar with video art, installations, or site-specific artworks can comfortably display VR in their private environment.” (Of course, as with those more traditional formats, it always helps to have access to a consultant who is well-versed in the medium’s intricacies.)
While the software and hardware underpinning a VR artwork might be very complex, Birnbaum noted that enjoying the fruits of that labor is much simpler. As is the case with most artworks, he said, having a rich understanding of the medium’s formal intricacies can only improve the encounter—but it’s not a prerequisite. “I’m not a chef, but I like going out to eat,” he joked. “Do you have to know how the film is produced when you go look at the new James Bond movie? Or do you have to understand what cameras Tarkovsky used when he did Stalker? I don’t think so.” Birnbaum envisions a day when VR will advance so that viewers don’t have to do much more than “buy it, turn it on, and experience it.” Further down the road, he added, subscription-based models akin to Netflix or Spotify might even arise.